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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > QATAR LGBT+ BRIEFING


Tuesday 25 October 2022, by siawi3

Source: The Peter Tatchell Foundation 26.10.22



∙ Male and female homosexuality are illegal in Qatar

∙ Punished by up to three years in jail (Article 296 of the Penal Code 2004)

∙ For gay Muslims, the statue book allows for the death penalty – although no cases are known

∙ Extramarital sex (regardless of gender or sexuality) is punishable.

∙ Unmarried cohabitation is illegal

∙ Qatar has a number of secret gay conversion centres that force mostly young LGBT+ people into unwanted ‘conversion’ treatments in a bid to turn them straight, often lasting many months. These involve forms of psychological and religious ‘brainwashing’. The victims are not converted to heterosexuality but often end up severely depressed and anxious, have mental breakdowns and attempt or commit suicide. Some have escaped these centres and fled Qatar, fearing for their safety.

∙ One of these conversion centres - the Wifaq Centre, is based in Lusail City just,
moments away from the Lusail Stadium, the location of the World Cup final. More details follow below.

∙ So-called ‘honour killings’ of LGBT+ people are mostly not investigated and usually covered up by the Qatar authorities.

∙ There is evidence of racial profiling of gay men with harsher punishments being inflicted on non-white individuals and those of the Muslim faith.

∙ Unmarried straight couples are also targeted by the authorities.

∙ There are examples of doctors referring LGBTs with sexually transmitted diseases to the police and of hotels also reporting LGBT+ guests to the police.

∙ There is a significant covert LGBT+ community (both Qataris and immigrants). They live in fear of arrest, have no legal rights and if same-sex couples live together they break the law daily and risk arrest if discovered.

∙ Qatari LGBTs have to be ultra discreet and are often pressured into straight marriages whilst maintaining a secret same-sex relationship.


Undercover police entrapment operations

There are ongoing sting operations to entrap LGBTs

These are generally focused on social media sites like Grindr.

Undercover police set traps to invite men to a public place or hotel room where they are arrested.

What happens after often depends on an individuals nationality

Punishments for homosexual acts

Western nationalities

LGBTs holding passports from western countries are mostly arrested, and asked to leave the country. If they have a work permit this will be revoked. They are normally given 7 – 14 days to leave. It rarely goes to court.

Citizens of Asia and Indian sub-continent countries (non-Muslim)

LGBT+ citizens of countries such as India, Philippines and other nationalities (who are not Muslim) are likely to be arrested and placed in prison. It is unusual for these cases go to court but there are examples of individuals who have been jailed and beaten. More usually, their embassies are informed, and they are deported after a few days detention.

There is the notorious example of a number of Filipino LGBTs who were entrapped, arrested and then raped and beaten by the arresting officers, before being placed in prison without medical attention.

Foreign nationals who are Muslim

Foreign nationals who are resident of Qatar and are Muslim are subject to the harshest treatment in these situations.

They will be arrested, detained and then taken to court. If found guilty (they normally are), they are punished by further imprisonment (up to three years); sometimes combined with additional punishment such as flogging.

Muslims are prosecuted under Sharia law (other religions are prosecuted under civil law).

Prison standards: there have been allegations of mistreatment, including rape and sexual assault, against inmates who are gay.

Qatari citizens

LGBT+ Qataris will be prosecuted under Sharia law, which has a maximum penalty of death; though there is no record of this sentence being carried out.

Moreover, Qataris who are deemed to look gay or effeminate can be harassed and interrogated by the police in the street or shopping malls. The authorities also attempt to entrap LGBTs online via dating apps.

Most pressure on young gay Qataris comes from their family.

If a young person comes out, or is discovered to be LGBT+, or is deemed too feminine or masculine, or a family member is known or suspected in the community as being gay, the family will often intervene to defend their “honour”. This can involve sending the young person abroad, or to a conversion centre for treatment or in extreme cases having them murdered in a so-called “honour” killing. The authorities typically look the other way in instances of “honour” killing. There are rarely investigations and even more rarely prosecutions.

Being sent abroad

Many young LGBT+ Qataris voluntary move abroad to escape the pressure to marry and the risk of imprisonment.

Some families will order a LGBT+ individual to move overseas, against their will, so as to not to cause the family “embarrassment.”

There is no obligation for the family to continue to financially support an individual sent abroad – some do, some don’t. Most move to Europe or the US.

Honour Killings

There are reports of young men being murdered by fathers, brothers or cousins for being gay. The victims have been taken to a remote area, murdered and buried in an unmarked grave. The family then make it known within the tribe what has happened and that “honour” has been restored. The police and other authorities do not investigate.

Referral to conversion centres

Families, schools, religious leaders and courts can refer individuals to so called “family centres”. These are places where attempts are made to convert LGBTs – to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

These “family centres” are government funded and deal with a range of issues including divorce, family disputes and mediation, as well as gender identity and sexuality. They publicly front as being progressive in dealing with family issues humanely. They are based on Islamic principles and often include “spiritual guidance”.

It is thought there are around 5 – 6 centres in the country but the locations and details are difficult to find. They are very secretive.

We are aware of the Wifaq Family Consulting Centre

Wifaq Family Consulting Centre

∙ This is located in Lusail City which is part of Doha.

∙ Lusail is the location of many World Cup matches in the newly built Lusail Stadium
and will be the location of the World Cup final.

∙ The centre is open to all citizens and residents of Qatar.

∙ It primarily deals with issues around divorce and custody of children. However, the website also refers to “guidance and counselling”, “parental care service” and “community awareness service”. LGBT+ conversion falls within these remits.

∙ One of the aims of this centre is to “mitigate the effects of rapid changes in the family in Qatar and raise the efficiency of family members to manage a stable and cohesive family life”. This alludes to what they do to LGBT+ Qataris to ensure conformity to traditional Islamic family values.

∙ It seems that most LGBT+ conversion treatments result from family referrals. Indeed you can go online and directly refer someone.

∙ There is also a reference to family court court cases - this appears to be mostly about divorces but the language used is vague and open to multiple interpretations of what is actually done there, including court referrals for conversion “treatment”.


Individuals are referred for conversion via:

∙ Self referral
∙ Family (mostly common)
∙ Court order / compulsory


∙ Standard treatment is weekly counselling sessions (1 or 2 hours a week)

∙ We know of examples of compulsory residential full-time treatment. Individuals are required to remain in a designated property under the supervision of the centre. These properties are located away from the centres.

∙ Whilst not prisons or formal detention centres, they are under guard, and permission needs to be sought to leave.

∙ These “treatments” have been known to last for months.

∙ The treatment is “counselling” and “religious guidance” rather than physical intervention.

∙ One individual who spoke about the treatment called it “psychological warfare” and another described it as “psychological and religious brainwashing.”

∙ We know of examples of people escaping the centres and fleeing the country.

American Universities links to gay conversion centres

∙ A number of American Universities including Georgetown, Northwestern, Weill Cornell Medicine, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth and Carnegie Mellon have branch campuses at Education City. HEC Paris also has a campus function in Qatar.

∙ They are funded by the Qatar Government via the Qatar Foundation.

∙ Qatar Foundation also funds The Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre.

∙ The Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre does a lot of good, including services for children with special needs and orphans. But hidden amongst their programs we have uncovered Wifaq.

∙ We know from American academics working in US universities and the Qatar Foundation that the American institutions are aware of these links and fail to address them or raise objections.

∙ Some academics accuse the universities of hypocrisy. They are accused of taking millions of dollars in monthly payments from the Qatar government and in return remain silent about these gay conversion centres and other human right issues. This is despite pressure from LGBT+ and human rights groups at their home campus in the US.

∙ Academics have also expressed concern, that despite the status of Qatar Foundation ensuring academic freedom, they feel unable to provide information and support to LGBT+ students.

HIV and sexual health services

∙ Any new resident to Qatar is tested for a variety of conditions including TB and HIV. If positive, residency is not issued, the visa revoked and the person is removed from the country. Therefore the Qatar authorities say there is no need for HIV services as they claim there isn’t any HIV in the country.

∙ Clearly some Qatari citizens have HIV but it is not clear how and where treatment is provided – if at all. We know of gay Qataris who say they’ve had to move abroad to get treatment for HIV and other sexual infections.

∙ The biggest HIV issue is men who define themselves as heterosexual infecting their wive(s). We believe the main hospital has treatment provision for them but, as far as we know, there is nothing aimed at gay/bi men.

∙ Anyone with an STI is fearful of going to a hospital or doctor for testing or treatment because of examples of doctors referring such people to the police.

∙ Individuals with STIs often leave the country for treatment. Non-Qataris diagnosed with HIV are deported.