Activism

How Qatar's only LGBTQ+ fan group is raising awareness during World Cup games

The Proud Maroons group was set up by Dr Nas Mohamed to allow fans around the world to speak out about Qatar's homophobia

Qatar World Cup, Proud Maroons

Dr Nas Mohamed, founder of the Proud Maroons. Image: Supplied

The only publicly gay Qatari has set up a LGBTQ+ fan group for the Qatar national team during the World Cup to raise awareness of their persecution.

The fact homosexuality is illegal in Qatar means there are no LGBTQ+ groups in the country and no Pride celebration. By extension, there’s no LGBTQ+ fan group cheering on the men’s national team, the Maroons, as they play in their first World Cup.

England has the 3 Lions Pride group, while Wales has The Rainbow Wall, both playing on the national team’s nickname. For Qatar, it’s the Proud Maroons.

“Our community in Qatar cannot walk away from this so I ask that we stand together as The Proud Maroons, as one global LGBTQ+ community, and say love is not a crime,” says founder Dr Nas Mohamed.

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Mohamed, a doctor trained in sports medicine, came out as gay earlier this year, in a bid to raise awareness of the persecution of Qatar’s LGBTQ+ community.

Since coming out, Mohamed has set up the Alwan Foundation, which aims to represent the LGBTQ+ community in the Gulf and provide information on how they are treated.

The Proud Maroons works, essentially, to allow fans from around the world to take part in this.

“We are giving a voice to the silent fans that are hiding in fear in Qatar. And we’re doing that through sharing our love and LGBTQ+ pride on social media using #proudmaroons during every single Qatari game. Bringing visibility every moment that we can, because that’s really the first step,” Mohamed says.

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As well as creating solidarity, Mohamed hopes the group will create a network of support lasting beyond the tournament.

But the tournament itself has raised questions. Is watching the games being complicit with Qatar’s abuses? Mohamed believes fans can pick for themselves.

“It’s a personal decision, and I understand both sides. It is ok not to be part of the problem. It is also ok to be part of the solution,” he says.

If you’re watching the games, Mohamed says, it’s a case of also bringing visibility to those that are hidden, and raising funds to help. Mohamed is selling Proud Maroons merchandise to raise money for the Alwan Foundation’s work supporting Qatar’s LGBTQ+ community.

“For The Proud Maroons, we know a certain subset of individuals are going to watch the games, and maybe even get lost in the excitement of football. But this is about so much more than a game,” he says.

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