“I think with a little flexibility and compromise on both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup,” he added.
Critics said Cleverly, a member of the centre-right Conservatives and a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, was essentially asking LGBT activists to hide their identities in a country where homosexuality is a crime. Sex between men is prohibited under Qatari law, according to the US State Department. Sex between men is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Qatar continues to harass LGBT people ahead of World Cup, rights group claims
Gary Lineker, former England footballer, tweeted: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?”
“Don’t be gay at the World Cup,” read Thursday cover of Metro, a British table.
Lucy Powell, speaking for Labour’s opposition group on sport and culture, call Cleverly’s comments were “shockingly deaf.” He urged the government to challenge FIFA “how to put the fans in this position,” instead of “condemning discriminatory values.”
Downing Street condemned Cleverly’s comments, saying in a statement that people shouldn’t “be accused of who they are,” according to the Associated Press.
Amid criticism, Cleverly reiterated his position, telling British broadcaster Sky News “we have very important partners in the Middle East,” and “it’s important, when you’re a guest of someone country, respect the culture of your country. hospitable people.”
When asked if he was planning to attend the World Cup, from November 20 to December 18, Cleverly said it was because “it’s a big international event” where there are other speakers. He should also be there to protect the British fans, he said.
Human Rights Watch said in a report on Monday that arrests and abuses of LGBT people continue in Qatar as of last month.
The Gulf state’s treatment of poor groups such as migrant workers has come under intense scrutiny since it was given control of the tournament. The Qatari leaders have reacted to some of the criticism that has been directed at their country, saying that the attacks are by “those who do not accept the idea that an Arab Muslim country will host a tournament like the World Cup World.”
Andrew Jeong contributed to this report.