North Rhine-Westphalia: Qatar’s World Cup ambassador calls homosexuality “mental damage”

Status: 11/08/2022 19:38

Qatar’s World Cup ambassador and ex-footballer Khalid Salman caused a stir with defamatory statements about homosexuality – two weeks before the start of the World Cup in Qatar.

These are words that are scandalous and irritating: being gay is “mental damage”. At least that’s what the Qatari World Cup ambassador and ex-national footballer Khalid Salman says in an interview in front of the TV camera. What happened then may have been unexpected for the 60-year-old: He had barely finished speaking in the ZDF documentary “Geheimsache Qatar” when a press spokesman interrupted the conversation. We show the decisive scene here in the video.

Interview cancelled: Qatar’s World Cup ambassador calls homosexuality “mental damage”

8/11/2022 21:50

The complete ZDF documentation can be viewed here in the ZDF media library:

Salman is not just anyone. He is one of the official ambassadors of the organizing committee for the football World Cup, which begins on November 21 in the Emirate of Qatar on the Arabian Gulf. His words largely confirm the loud criticism from numerous fan and human rights organizations ahead of the big football tournament in the Persian Gulf. Qatar is repeatedly criticized – because of how it treats foreign workers, women – and queer people.

Minister of the Interior Faeser: “Such statements are terrible”

Khalid Salman, former professional footballer and Qatar’s World Cup ambassador

Image: ZDF

“During the World Cup, many things will enter the country. For example, let’s talk about homosexuals,” Salman initially explained in the ZDF documentary “Geheimsache Qatar”. “The most important thing is that everyone will accept them coming here. But they will have to accept our rules.” Being gay is “haram” and therefore forbidden, it is a “mental injury”.

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser was horrified by the statements. “Such statements are terrible,” stressed the SPD politician, who is also responsible for sports: “And that is also why we are working to hopefully improve things in Qatar in the future.”

Homosexuality is a punishable offense in the emirate with up to five years in prison for homosexual acts. Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Chalifa Al-Thani recently gave Faeser a “safety guarantee” for people in the LGBT community that they should not expect any punishment during the World Cup.

Human Rights Watch warns homosexuals against traveling to the World Cup

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch nevertheless warned homosexuals against traveling to the football World Cup in Qatar. There is “a big risk” that showing same-sex love “will be punished,” said Wenzel Michalski, director of Human Rights Watch Germany: “No matter what assurances there are. Qatar is not a constitutional state. You cannot sue.”

Official travel warning required

The statements “about homosexuals are disturbing and yet not a surprise,” said Alfonso Pantisano of the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) on Tuesday. “When the organizing committee (…) seems to want to welcome queer fans, and then a World Cup ambassador makes such a disturbing remark, it proves the regime’s threat to queer people.” The association expects a travel warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sends the message to all fans: “Boycott this WC!”

“Anyone who is stunned now […] he slept”

Dario Minden of the fan organization “Unsere KURK” called a travel warning on Tuesday night a “meaningful symbol” of WDR. He also emphasized regarding Salman’s statements: “Anyone who is still stunned, who is surprised now, has been asleep.” It is about understanding that when there are homosexuals on one side and people on the other who say homosexuality is a disease that must be eradicated, then you cannot have a good relationship with both of them. “You have to confess. And that’s where the DFB fails,” Minden said.

Criticism also from the DFB

Meanwhile, DFB president Bernd Neuendorfer called the “derailment” of the World Cup ambassador “completely out of the question” in “Bild” newspaper. The statement discredits the entire LGBTIQ community and reveals an extremely problematic relationship with human rights. “From our point of view, FIFA should seriously consider whether the ethics committee should deal with this.”

Several taverns in North Rhine-Westphalia have decided to boycott the WC

Several pubs in North Rhine-Westphalia have been firmly committed to a boycott for weeks. Unlike other major football tournaments, the hosts do not want to show any of the matches from the World Cup in Qatar in their premises on a big screen. After all, a World Cup must be a cosmopolitan event that must leave no room for exclusion and intolerance.

In Düsseldorf, for example, the landlord of the old town “Retematäng” started the boycott movement “No Qatar in my pub”: “Our hearts are bleeding. But it’s just not possible,” says landlord Daniel Vollmer. “We would consider ourselves hypocrites if we strongly condemned the tournament but generated revenue by broadcasting it.”


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