If you’re planning to explore the Arab culture and modern delights of Qatar, you may wonder: is Qatar gay-friendly? And is it’s capital Doha gay-friendly? The answer to both of these questions is unfortunately no. In many countries, acceptance of homosexuality may be framed in terms of the legality of gay marriage and adoption. In Qatar, the situation is more dire, as homosexuality itself is illegal and, technically, punishable by death.
Given this lack of gay rights in Doha and the surrounding areas, Qatar is consistently and unsuprisingly positioned near the bottom in rankings of LBGTQ-friendliness among different countries of the globe. According to Equaldex, homosexuals face no real legal protections in terms of housing or employment discrimination, and they are forbidden to serve in the military.
Gay rights in Qatar are non-existent, setting the Gulf nation apart from its European counterparts. The lack of LGBTQ rights in Qatar, however, is something the country shares with many of its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Life for LGBTQ people in Qatar is difficult socially and legally, and many foreign workers, including several large contingents of Filipinos, have been arrested and summarily deported for homosexuality. Trans visitors have also been detained and told to "change their behavior." Spartacus notes in their latest LGBTQ Travel Index that Qatar has an overall ranking of -10 in terms of its LGBTQ-friendliness, with poor ratings in multiple criterion including anti-descrimination legislations, transgender rights, and strong relgious influences.
In contrast to the progress being made in much of the world, gay rights in Qatar are failing to materialize. Since 2004, sodomy between two men has been punishable, entailing up to three years in prison. Furthermore, Muslims found guilty of homosexuality can technically be executed under sharia law, although there have been no recorded instances of this punishment actually being carried out.
If you plan to visit Qatar, chances are you will spend some time in the country’s capital, Doha. So is Doha gay-friendly? Unfortunately, like the rest of Qatar, Doha is not LGBTQ-friendly. While several bars frequented by foreigners are more accepting, there is no gay area in Doha. And, in accordance with the lack of LGBTQ rights in Qatar generally, gay rights in Doho are also not prevalent.
With this strong overarching political and legal framework, it comes as no surprise that there are no pride events or parades taking place in Doha or in Qatar more broadly. In fact, government agencies actively censure foreign media that reference LGBTQ issues. While the state backed the Al Jazeera television network, when it acknowledged LGBT Pride Month in 2019, this aberration does not change the negative answer to the question: is Qatar LGBTQ-friendly?
So is Qatar gay-friendly? Certainly not. But is Doha safe for LGBTQ travelers? With certain precautions, it may be. With international sporting events coming to the nation, most notably the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has finally addressed the lack of LGBTQ rights in Doha, and has insisted LGBTQ fans will be welcomed. Officials have stated that all are welcome, and soccer fans traveling for international competitions have reported a general lack of issues as long as no public affection is shown.
While there were talks about suspending anti-LGBT laws during the tournament, the idea has ultimately been rejected by the local government. And, with misterb&b, you can count on safe lodgings and comfortable accommodations. So while it is far from a perfect LGBTQ destination, with the right precautions and a little common sense, visitors can still enjoy this unique country.