‘Joining would mean jail’: Plight of LGBTQ+ Qataris highlighted at World Cup by Proud Maroons fans group

People outside Qatar are being urged to join a new LGBTQ+ fans group for the World Cup 2022 hosts’ national team – because it’s not safe for Qataris themselves to show support for Proud Maroons; “we have the chance to bring global visibility to my community,” says Dr Nas Mohamed, the world’s only out gay Qatari

By Jon Holmes

Dr Nas Mohamed, who is campaigning on behalf of fellow LGBTQ+ Qataris, has launched Proud Maroons

An LGBTQ+ and allies supporters group for the Qatar national team?!

It sounds like the most unlikely story so far from what is already an extraordinary World Cup – even before a ball has been kicked.

But with less than a week to go before the host nation kicks off the tournament against Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium, Proud Maroons has been launched to “highlight the difference” between how lesbian, gay, bi and trans fans who have freedoms and rights are able to support the teams they love, and what it’s like to be LGBTQ+ and love football in places where homosexuality is criminalised.

The new group has been founded by Dr Nas Mohamed – the first-ever publicly out gay Qatari – and will help to bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar during the tournament.

Proud Maroons is the only LGBTQ+ supporters’ group for a national team that can’t have fans from its own nation. Same-sex intimacy is illegal in Qatar, with punishment ranging from three to five years in prison. The country’s constitution even retains provision for the death penalty for gay relationships.

Named after the national team’s nickname, The Maroons, Proud Maroons also offers a chance to actively support Dr Mohamed’s non-profit organisation, The Alwan Foundation, which aims to advance LGBTQ+ rights in the Middle East with a focus on the Gulf region.

Whatever the path is to change, visibility is the first step in that path.

Hear from Dr Nas Mohamed as he introduces you to Proud Maroons

“The persecution and suffering of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar is at risk of being sportswashed,” says Dr Mohamed. “The Proud Maroons will help highlight the difference between what is extended now to the global LGBTQ+ community versus what the local community lives every day.”

LGBTQ+ people worldwide, along with allies, are encouraged to follow all of Qatar’s World Cup games and share their love and sense of Pride on social media by using the hashtag #ProudMaroons.

Together, let’s tell Qatar that love is not a crime. When Qatar plays, let’s show our LGBTQ+ love, by posting, by kissing, by sharing your pride, and helping to create a movement that spans far past when the games end.

The #ProudMaroons call to action

Additionally, individuals can help bring visibility to the Qatari LGBTQ+ community by going to
www.proudmaroons.com and purchasing official merchandise.

All net profits from the merchandise will go to The Alwan Foundation and will support their efforts to help LGBTQ+ Qataris after the World Cup ends.

You can also donate directly to The Alwan Foundation which aims to help local LGBTQ+ people in Qatar through support, advocacy, and research – areas that are completely lacking at the moment.

The Proud Maroons was created together with the community, a global creative agency.

“From the very beginning, this project was meant to use the upcoming World Cup to bring global visibility to the oppressed LGBTQ+ community in Qatar,” says Marcelo Padoca, executive creative director at the community.

“With the support of LGBTQ+ people and allies outside Qatar, we can turn the most silenced community in the world into the loudest.

“It has been an honour and an inspiration to work with Dr Nas to build a platform that celebrates love and freedom but also that will help to raise funds to help the Qatari LGBTQ+ community after the tournament is over.”

Kate Sheehan, senior copywriter at the community, added: “The Proud Maroons are all about showing those who would silence us that the worldwide LGBTQ+ community is loud and beautiful – and that no matter how much you want to pretend we don’t exist, we are here.

“As the games come and go, hopefully seeing the global LGBTQ+ community come together for those in Qatar sends a message to its LGBTQ+ citizens who are being forced to hide their true selves: You are not alone. You are valid. We love and welcome you as you are. And we will support you in any way we can.”

Sports Media LGBT+ is proud to support Proud Maroons. For more information, visit the website at proudmaroons.com and follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Sports Media LGBT+ is a network, advocacy, and consultancy group that is helping to build a community of LGBTQ+ people and allies in sport. We’re also a digital publisher. Learn more about us here.

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