Nas Mohamed shot to fame after being widely regarded as the first openly gay citizen of Qatar. However, he was only able to "come out" after seeking asylum in the US to escape oppressive laws in his country. Now, he is using his notoriety to speak up about the ongoing debate surrounding Qatar's staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup later this month.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have voiced concerns for their safety once they travel to the Middle Eastern country to support their respective national teams as they compete for World Cup glory later this month. Nas has confirmed that openly gay fans may find themselves "at risk" even though FIFA and Qatar have denied any threat.

Nas was born and raised in Qatar, but kept his sexuality hidden for most of his life out of fear of persecution in a country where homosexual relations are criminalised. While punishments are believed to be harsher for locals, foreigners are still at risk if caught offending the country's morals.

According to a report by SBS News, the Human Dignity Trust claims that same-sex intimacy is an offence punishable with the death penalty in Qatar's interpretation of the Sharia law.

Nas, who escaped Qatar 11 years ago to seek asylum in the United States, publicly came out this year and was surprised to learn that he has been dubbed as the first openly gay Qatari man. He says that he knows many members of the community in his homeland, but admits that none of them are open about their sexuality. Because of this, he decided to come out to help shine a spotlight of the issue during the World Cup.

He warned visitors to be careful when they support to the LGBTQ+ cause while in Qatar. However, he also admitted that it is perhaps the best time to openly do so because Qatari authorities will be less likely to take drastic actions while the event is in the spotlight. However, attendees must prioritise their own safety.

Apart from law enforcement, Nas said that even locals may not be welcoming to foreigners who are not heterosexual, adding that the responsibility to raise awareness lies more on the teams, players and FIFA.

Apart from the LGBTQ+ community, concerns have also been raised over the treatment of migrant workers who have been hired for the construction of the World Cup venues. There have been reports of unreported deaths as well as safety violations and questionable working conditions.

World Cup 2022
Qatari authorities have indicated that some leniency on social morals will be shown for the World Cup AFP / KARIM JAAFAR