The Foreign Secretary James Cleverly received backlash last month for telling LGBTQ+ football fans who are heading to Qatar to be “respectful of the host nation”. The comment came following a LGBT protest by campaigner Peter Tatchell who was reportedly arrested for challenging the human rights abuses in the host nation.
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and Muslims who commit the ‘offence’ can receive the death penalty if prosecuted.
Cleverly told fans to demonstrate “a little bit of flex and compromise” and “to respect the culture of your host nation”, comments which Downing Street distanced itself from.
Now the Foreign Secretary is defending his decision to attend the football tournament given the human rights concerns not only in relation to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights but also the deaths of thousands of migrants who have worked there.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer and members of his Cabinet have refused to attend given the issues the host nation has with gay rights.
Speaking to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Cleverly said: “I will be going.”
His decision was made “for a number of reasons” and he added, “because I am a foreign secretary, and it is my job to ensure British visitors are safe.”
The cabinet minister continued: “I’ve visited Qatar in the lead-up to the World Cup and when I go to the World Cup, I will be speaking to the security authorities to ensure that English and Welsh and whatever other British fans who are going to the World Cup remain safe.”
Cleverly said that he and informed officials in Qatar of “how important we feel that they should respect gay fans” and that “we’re very proud that we champion gay rights around the world”.
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