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British gay athlete pledges to defend LGBTI rights in Qatar

British gay athlete pledges to defend LGBTI rights in Qatar

Gay athlete Tom Bosworth says he’ll risk prison to defend LGBTI rights at the 2019 World Championships in Qatar.

Bosworth is angry that a sport that prides itself on diversity has allowed its flagship event to be hosted by a country that criminalises homosexuality.

Tom Bosworth Team GB Photo
Ready for Qatar: Tom Bosworth wins gold with world record at London Anniversary Games Stephen Pond / British Athletics

‘There’s many questions as to why this championship’s ended up where it has,’ Bosworth told The Independent. ‘I think the athletes and perhaps even the sport has been forgotten.’

‘Obviously Qatar wants to make a statement. They’ve got the football world cup (in 2022) as well. If it’s about money, there’s other options [that could have been taken].’

The 28 year-old athlete, who came out as gay in 2015, made the comments after achieving the second world record of his career at the London Stadium on Saturday.

He is one of Britain’s leading gold medal prospects for the Doha event after collecting a silver medal in the 20km race walk at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Told fiancée and family not to attend

‘I’ve told my fiancée, ‘don’t even consider coming’, the Independent quoted him as saying. ‘I don’t want you or my family to come’’.

It’s not clear exactly how Bosworth plans to shine a light on LGBTI issues while in Qatar. However, The Independent noted that criticising the Gulf state’s Emir carries a five-year jail sentence.

Aspire Academy: World famous stadium masks Qatar’s anti-LGBTI laws. Photo: Aspire.qa

‘I will not be afraid to speak out,’ Bosworth said after his latest victory on Saturday. ‘I’m going there to do a job and compete but I want to do that safely, happily and I want those opportunities for everybody.’

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and carries a prison sentence of one to three years. However, it can be up to five years for gay men.

The Gulf state also doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, nor does it allow people to campaign for LGBTI rights.

The athletics World Championships are due to take place from 28 September until 6 October 2019.

See also:

Inspiring story of gay LA swimming club told in new film

An ‘overwhelming’ number of athletes remain closeted

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