Boyband Blue perform at Qatar World Cup, where being gay is illegal, amid growing backlash

Duncan James

Boyband Blue have taken part in World Cup celebrations in Qatar despite growing backlash to the tournament.

Duncan James, Lee Ryan, Antony Costa and Simon Webbe performed at FIFA’s Fan Festival on Monday (21 November) at Doha’s Al Bidda Park. 

It comes amid growing criticism of the Qatar World Cup, where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment, and where queer Muslim men can be sentenced to death.

Blue have previously performed at Manchester Pride, and this year played at Mighty Hoopla, a festival with a large queer following.

Boyband Blue perform at Qatar World Cup fan festival

Boyband Blue perform at Qatar World Cup fan festival. (Getty Images)

Blue singer Duncan James is gay. He first came out as bisexual in a 2009 interview with News of the World, but he later claimed he had been pressured into saying he was attracted to both men and women by tabloid reporters.

He has since been open about abuse he has received due to his sexuality, but performed with the rest of Blue on Monday.

Robbie Williams recently defended his decision to perform by underplaying Qatar’s awful human rights record. He said: “Of course, I do not condone any abuse of human rights anywhere. 

“That being said, if we do not visit countries that abuse human rights in some shape or form, it would be the shortest tour ever known. I would not even be able to perform in my own kitchen,” the London World reported. 

In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and being found guilty of same-sex relations can result in a lengthy prison sentence. Under Sharia law, it is possible for men to face the death penalty if they are found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy.

BBC Sport presenter Alex Scott has been praised for wearing the pro-LGBTQ+ OneLove armband in Qatar, after showing any support for the queer community was prohibited by FIFA.

Captains of the England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland football teams were supposed to support the queer community by wearing OneLove armbands.

Instead, a joint statement from the countries’ football associations was released stating they would no longer wear a OneLove armband, because players would be booked. 

Since the start of the World Cup on Sunday (20 November) football fans have reported being forced to remove rainbow items of clothing, including hats and t-shirts, in order to enter the stadium