World Cup is one of pristine stadiums and lavish hosting, the daily reality of life for LGBTQ+ people remains an existence in the shadows.The tournament has been touted by the wealthy Gulf state as a place for everyone, although the rainbow flag is unlikely to fly inside the eight arenas.David Beckham has lent his global appeal to the host country and, by the time the first game kicks off in November, hundreds of millions of people worldwide will be watching FIFA’s showpiece.Dr Nas Mohammed, who is the first gay Qatari with a high profile to go public, gave a drastically different account of life in the oil-rich Gulf state as he spoke out from the US for our Pride 50 series earlier this month.

Ex-pats living in the emirate who spoke to have now given similar testimonies of life for LGBTQ+ people.Julia, a gay woman originally from Western Europe, says fans will encounter a harsh reality and be ‘putting themselves at huge risk’ if they express their authentic identities at the tournament.She said the LGBTQ+ community has to socialise under a veil of secrecy and ‘’there is no freedom of identity’ in a country where same-sex relations are illegal.

It has been reported that the offence could also result in the death penalty under Sharia law, from which legislation is derived, although there are no recorded examples of this happening.‘Being LGBTQ+ in Qatar and I assume any other countries where being gay is criminalised is like living a half-life,’ Julia says. ‘Sure, you might be able to meet someone and get by with being extremely discreet, but you are essentially ruled by fear.‘You’re looking over your shoulder everywhere you go in case there’s a colleague who might see you with your partner, even when you aren’t.