A top Qatari football official has insisted that gay and transgender football fans will be "welcome" in the country for the 2022 FIFA World Cup - despite homosexuality being punishable with up to seven years in prison and, in the case of native Muslims, death.
Chief executive of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Nasser al-Khater, claimed that the state on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula would welcome "all" fans to the event, despite a nationwide ban on homosexuality and concerns over the legal status of transgender people, AFP reports.
"I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world - and they'll all be welcome here," Khater told reporters when asked about the potential situation on the ground for transgender fans.
"The safety and security of every single fan is of the utmost importance to us," Khater said, adding: "There's a lot of training going into security personnel to make sure that things that are culturally different are seen in that frame."
Homosexuality is currently punishable with fines and up to seven years in prison in Qatar. For the native Muslim population the 'crime' of homosexuality carries the death penalty - though it is not believed to have been implemented.
"Public displays of affection is frowned upon, it's not part of our culture - but that goes across the board to everybody," Khater said.
Meanwhile, gay Team GB athlete Tom Bosworth recently insisted he has "no intention" of hiding his sexuality while competiting in Qatar at the World Athletics Championshipps, which kick off today (27 September).