Search icon


26th Oct 2022

Foreign secretary tells LGBTQ+ fans to be respectful and ‘compromise’ at the World Cup

Callum Boyle

Labour have called his comments ‘tone-deaf’

New foreign secretary James Cleverly has told LGBTQ+ fans travelling to the World Cup in Qatar to show “a little bit of flex and compromise.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and the decision to award the country the tournament has been met with opposition by LGBT groups and human rights activisits.

During an interview with LBC he said: “I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans going to watch the World Cup and how they will treat our fans and international fans.

“They want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves, and they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.

“One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation. They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.”

Labour described his comments as “shockingly tone-deaf” however the recently-appointed foreign secretary doubled down on his comments in a further interview on Sky News.

“These are Muslim countries, they have very different cultural starting point for us. I think it’s important when you’re a visitor to a country that you respect the culture of your host nation.”

He also confirmed that he would be attending the tournament after Labour leader Keir Starmer signalled that he would not do so.

“If I am able to go, I should go because it is a major international event. There’ll be lots of my international interlocutors there and also there’ll be a whole load of Brits overseas,” he said.

Cleverly’s comments come after human rights activist Peter Tatchell was arrested in Doha on Tuesday after becoming the first person to stage a public LGBT+ protest in Qatar.

Related links: