“I think with a bit of flexibility and compromise on both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup,” he added.
Critics said Cleverly, a member of the centre-right Conservatives and a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, was essentially asking LGBT supporters to hide their identity in a country where homosexuality is a crime. Consensual sex between men is prohibited under Qatari law, which does not specifically prohibit sex between women, according to the US State Department. Sex between men carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
Qatar continues to mistreat LGBT people ahead of World Cup, rights group says
Gary Lineker, former British national football player, tweet: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?”
“Don’t be gay at the World Cup,” read Thursday cover from Metro, a British tabloid.
Lucy Powell, who speaks for the opposition Labor Party on sport and culture, is called Cleverly’s comments are “stunningly tone deaf.” He urged the government to challenge FIFA “on how they have put fans in this situation,” instead of “defending discriminatory values.”
Downing Street rebuked Cleverly’s comments, saying in a statement that people should not have to “compromise who they are,” according to the Associated Press.
Amidst the criticism, Cleverly reiterated his stance, telling British broadcaster Sky News that “we have very important partners in the Middle East,” and that “it’s important, when you’re a visitor to a country, that you respect the culture of your country. host nation.”
Asked if he planned to attend the World Cup, which runs from November 20 to December 18, Cleverly said he would because “it’s an important international event” where there would be other interminers. He also had to be there to protect British passengers, he said.
Human Rights Watch said in a report on Monday that arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of LGBT people continued in Qatar as recently as last month.
The Gulf country’s treatment of disadvantaged groups such as migrant workers has come under heavy scrutiny since it received the rights to host the tournament. Qatari leaders have been the subject of criticism against their country, claiming that the attacks are from “people who cannot accept the idea that an Arab Muslim country would host a tournament like the World Cup.”
Andrew Jeong contributed to this report.