Socceroo Josh Cavallo has spoken out about homophobic laws overseas, saying he would fear for his safety if he were to travel to Qatar for the World Cup.
“I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar, so it’s something I’m very scared [of] and wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar for that,” Cavallo told The Guardian.
“And that saddens me.
“At the end of the day the World Cup is in Qatar, and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country.
“To know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate – is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?”
Cavallo publicly came out last month, making him the only openly gay active professional footballer in the world.
Qatar is rated among the most dangerous locations for LGBTQ+ people.
Homosexuality is banned by several laws, with penalties of up to ten years’ imprisonment.
The country can also apply Sharia law for Muslims, under which homosexuality and any sex outside of marriage are punishable by death, although human rights bodies have reported no evidence that this has occurred in Qatar.
The FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar in 2022.
Officials have said that LGBTQ+ people will be welcome, subject to limitations on behaviour.
Flying rainbow flags in the stadium would be permitted, but couples would not be allowed to display affection, such as by holding hands.
“I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world – and they’ll all be welcome here,” said tournament chief executive Nasser al-Khater in 2019.
He said that same-sex couples would be treated the same as any others.
“A public display of affection is frowned upon,” said al-Khater.
“It’s not part of our culture. But that goes across the board to everybody.”