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Brave doctor becomes ‘first’ Qatari to publicly come out as gay

Josh Milton May 29, 2022
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Nas Mohamed looks to the camera in front of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag

Nas Mohamed has become the 'first' Qatari to publicly come out as gay, according to news reports. (Screen capture via BBC)

A doctor has become the “first” known Qatari to publicly come out as gay – and he’s now seeking asylum in the US.

Nas Mohamed, a 35-year-old physician living in San Fransico, California, left behind a life in Qatar where he hid who he was in fear of persecution.

Done with being “anonymous”, Mohamed told the British newspaper The Independent that his journey to accepting his sexuality was not an easy one.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf nation and punishments range from fines, jail time and, in regions where the Sharia court rules, queer Muslim men can technically be given a death sentence.

Some Qataris have anonymously written about the “jarring” experience of growing up queer in the Arab country. One gay Qatari man said that he suffered “irreparable damage to [his] mental health” because of the climate of fear and discrimination.

The man is not alone Mohamed said there are “a lot of gay people in Qatar” who grow up in a country where “male, macho, righteous and misogynistic culture” is celebrated.

Gay man in Qatar: ‘We need more people to come out’

Mohamed feared that he would be killed if anyone ever discovered he was gay. He couldn’t confide in anyone about his sexuality as his family was “extremely religious”. Without an internet connection, he felt isolated and alone.

He was also wary of the gay conversion therapy centres that operate in Qatar.

It was in Las Vegas, Nevada, that Mohamed finally discovered who he was. He had visited the city in his 20s as a medical student.

“I walked into a gay club and I knew I was 100 per cent gay,” he recalled. “I went home and cried – I thought my life is in crisis. I thought I was going to go to Hell. My life is damned.”

Mohamed knows the personal cost involved in coming out as a Qatari. He knows he may never reconnect with his estranged family.

Men and women wearing traditional Qatari clothing in Doha, Qatar. (Sean Gallup/Getty)

But he knows sharing his truth with the world is the best thing he can do. “For us to change things for LGBTQ+ Qataris, we need more people to come out,” he said.

“I would like to share my views with my name, as a physician and as a Qatari citizen that still has parents and siblings in the country. They need to know I am one of their own and am not a ‘western agenda’ as they refer to us.”

Mohamed left for the US in 2011 for a residency training but has stayed there ever since. He has only returned to Qatar once since, for a weekend trip in 2014.

The treatment of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar has faced fresh scrutiny as the nation is set to hold the 2022 World Cup. Activists, players and fans have blasted FIFA officials, questioning why a country that is not safe for all football fans and players has been granted hosting rights.

Gay Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, meanwhile, said he would be “scared” to travel to Qatar.

“It’s time to give us rights,” Mohamed said. “We need to be acknowledged and be honest about how we are treated.

“I don’t think anyone can make a difference except Qataris.”

More: Qatar

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