Team GB’s Tom Bosworth will risk prison in Qatar 2019 World Championships
Team GB’s only gay athlete will risk prison to speak out about LGBT rights during the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Tom Bosworth, who captained England in the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, is a contender for a 20km race walk gold medal at the event.
The 28-year-old, who is from Leeds, proposed to his boyfriend on a Brazilian beach during the Rio Olympics, something which would not have been recognised in Qatar.
The Middle-Eastern country, which is also hosting the next World Cup in 2022, imprisons gay men for up to three years for having gay sex and does not allow its citizens to campaign for equal rights.
“I’ve told my fiancée, ‘don’t even consider coming… [to Qatar] I don’t want you or my family to come,’” Bosworth said in an interview with the Independent.
The country is facing criticism as it emerged last week that local versions of international newspapers are removing LGBT rights related articles from their issues.
There are heavy punishments for those who criticise the country’s Emir, as those who speak out could face a five year jail sentence.
But Bosworth said he’s not afraid of standing up for what he believes in. “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,” he told the Independent.
The athlete also discussed the location for the tournament, which has been granted the hosting rights despite its persecution of equal rights.
“There’s many questions as to why this championship’s ended up where it has, I think the athletes and perhaps even the sport has been forgotten,” Bosworth said.
“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],” he added to the Independent.
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is visited London on Monday and Amnesty International have called on Prime Minister Theresa May to advocate for LGBT people in Qatar in their discussions.
“Since becoming host nation for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar’s extremely poor human rights record has been in the international spotlight—from its widespread exploitation of migrant workers to restrictions on free speech. UK ministers and officials should see the visit as an opportunity to encourage much-needed human rights reform in Qatar, not least the decriminalisation of same-sex relations,” Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, told PinkNews.
Bosworth currently holds the World Record for the one mile race walk and British records for 3km, 5km, 10km, and 20km.