(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Human Rights Watch has issued an article on countries that have anti-LGBT laws. According to this, Qatar is one of 69 countries that have laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.
Law No. 11 of 2004 issued the Penal Code 11 / 2004 serves as the main document in Qatar. Some of the articles related to same-sex relations are the following (click here to review the entire document):
- Article 1 Mentions that sharia law is applicable in their territory if the person is Muslim.
- Articles 281, 285 and 288 punish sexual relations between consenting adults with imprisonment.
- Articles 296 and 298 criminalizes adultery and sodomy with imprisonment for up to three years.
As per article 1 of the Penal Code, sharia law is applicable to Muslims in Qatar. Married persons entering into extra-marital sexual relationships (whether homosexual or heterosexual) can face execution, and sexual acts between non-married persons can be punishable by flogging.
According to the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Qatar: Information on homosexuals, 8 May 2001, QAT01001.ZAR, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3deceae24.html
‘In 1996, the U.S. Department of State reported that an American citizen in Qatar was sentenced to six months imprisonment and 90 lashes for homosexual activity. The sentence was carried out on June 6 . (…) A physician was present and the prisoner completed the ordeal bruised but in good health. He was released from Central Prison on July 22  and departed Qatar (March 1996).
In 1998, Qatar deported over 20 Filipino workers suspected of being gay. The workers were arrested on October 1.’
Regarding the enforcement of the policies against the LGBT community, it is important to note that reports on punishment are not common. over this matter, Human Dignity trust has stated that ‘there is some limited evidence of the law being enforced in recent years, however reports are rare. There have been some reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in recent years, however, reporting of incidents is limited due to the LGBT community not being able to be open about their identities.’
Although it’s been stated that reports are not common, in 2019 a person detailed an arrest he suffered for being part of the LGBT community (read the full article here). This resonates with Human Rights Watch report on Qatar’s control over social media and online activity: ‘Qatari authorities censor mainstream media related to sexual orientation and gender identity. And people who have experienced government repression have told us that the government surveils and arrests LGBT people based on their online activity.’
The US State Department 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Qatar has also noted that although ‘Under sharia law homosexuality is punishable by death; there were no reports of any executions for this reason.’ also, ‘there were no public reports of violence against LGBTQI+ persons, who largely hid their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression due to an underlying pattern of discrimination toward LGBTQI+ persons.’
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The US State Department 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Qatar, has reported Significant human rights issues including credible reports of restrictions on free expression and the existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct, resulting in Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons facing discrimination under the law and in practice.
The report indicates that ‘There were no government efforts to address potential discrimination, nor are there antidiscrimination laws to protect LGBTI individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.’ and that ‘Due to social and religious conventions, there were no LGBTQI+ organizations, pride marches, or LGBTQI+ rights advocacy events.’
These discriminatory measures are likely to receive more international attention in the lead-up to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. FIFA has been urged to put pressure on Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup to provide better legal safeguards against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Over this matter, Fifa president Sepp Blatter apparently has said that gay fans should refrain from any sexual activities, however, he stated that he was sure there would be no problems.
On 2013 there was an attempt to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council homosexuality test which was a proposed homosexuality test that would have been used to prevent homosexual travellers to enter the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Amnesty International, argued that ‘this proposal will only further stigmatize people who already suffer extremely high levels of discrimination and abuse on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.’
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell argued in 2013 that Qatar’s plans to introduce the ‘gay test’ at immigration would mean that the World Cup would have to be cancelled, as ‘gay players and spectators will be banned from attending’. However, the World cup is still not likely to be cancelled, and there is also no known working medical test for homosexuality in existence.
Nonetheless, the human rights issues against the LGBT community in Qatar are problematic as they can put both players and sports fans in danger during the 2022 World cup. This has caused commentary amongst some athletes, British diver Tom Daley has stated on BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘If it can’t be an inclusive place to go and spectate or compete, if people don’t think they are going to be safe, then those countries shouldn’t be allowed to host the events until they change their laws.’
Amid the 2022 world cup in Qatar, censorship flags have been raised as discrimination against the LGBT community is more visible. Human Rights Watch has raised this issue in an article showing that ‘the private publishing partner of The New York Times, Dar Al Sharq, has repeatedly removed articles in the international print edition of The New York Times published in Qatar related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.’
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has also stated that there has been public discontent amongst people in Qatar as the country has welcomed foreigners regardless of their sexual orientation, and has also advertised that LGBT people are welcomed during the FIFA world cup in 2022. However, people are showing dissatisfaction as the country still remains unsafe for their own nationals that are part of the LGBT community. This has also been portrayed in the independent.uk as ‘Some rail against the “audacity” and “hypocrisy” of the ruling elite for courting leading fashion brands or celebrities who are gay, yet it remains illegal at home.’
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
Stonewal.org has launched practical guidance on how to support LGBT staff in Qatar. This is a useful tool that can be used in the context of LGBT people in Qatar and the steps that employers can take toward creating a safe work environment.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
Dr Shaul Gabbay
Dr Shaul Gabbay acts as a resource for immigration attorneys seeking advice, counsel and expert testimony in asylum cases. Formerly the Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East at the University of Denver, he has published extensively on cultures and customs in all Muslim countries, persecution issues based on family dishonour, gender and homosexuality, and sociology and politics of the Muslim world. Professor Gabbay’s expertise helps immigration attorneys and judges understand key societal issues and trends in the Muslim world that have life-threatening repercussions for Muslim immigrants throughout the U.S. at risk of deportation. His oral testimony and written analysis draw on his extensive knowledge and examination of cultural practices in Muslim countries as well as his life experience growing up in the Middle East. More information is on his website www.muslimworldexpert.com.