Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who came out as gay a fortnight ago, has shared his fears about playing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a country that punishes homosexuality with the death penalty. 

Qatar is ranked 143 out of 150 nations on the LGBTQ+ travel safety index, making it one of the most dangerous countries for LGBTQI people to visit. Qatar, which enforces strict Sharia laws, punishes homosexuality with imprisonment, flogging and the death penalty. In 2019, journalist Lyric Fergusson on her blog had ranked Qatar at second place in the list of 20 Most Dangerous Places For Gay Travellers.

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During an episode of The Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, Cavallo said he “wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar” due to the discriminatory laws in the country.

Scares Me and Makes Me Re-Evaluate

“I read something along the lines of that [they] give the death penalty for gay people in Qatar,” he said. “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, and 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?”

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Cavallo also revealed on the podcast that a few footballers who were still in the closet have been in touch with him since he came out.

“There are people who have reached out to me in confidentiality and said: ‘I’m struggling with the same thing Josh,’ and they’re professional footballers too. And look, it’s something you can’t rush. [I say] you want to be yourself, and at the end of the day I wasn’t happy and now look at me, I’m honestly on top of the world.”

“They like the sound of that and they say: ‘Josh, I haven’t experienced that before and I want to,’ and I say: ‘It’s in your hands, it’s your journey and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.’ I didn’t think there was but there definitely is.”

Josh Tells Anti-Trans Group ‘LGBWithTheT’

This past week, Cavallo also schooled the transphobic group LGB Alliance. LGB Alliance in a post congratulated Cavallo for coming out. “We applaud the courage of @JoshuaCavallo and hope he inspires others. Here’s to a time when society as a whole can look back and wonder why anyone felt the need to hide who they love,” the tweet said.

In response, Cavallo tweeted back ‘#lgbwiththet’, targeting the group’s anti-trans stance.

LGB Alliance is known for their transphobic attitudes, with their twitter bio reading “We promote the rights of lesbians, bisexuals & gay men, as recognised by biological sex. #SexNotGender.”

Recently, one of the group’s trustees, Professor Kathleen Stock, resigned from her role at Sussex University due to her promoting transphobic ideas that were at odds with most academics such as:  “gender identity is not more important than facts about biological sex “particularly when it comes to law and policy””. 

The anti-trans group replied to Cavallo’s tweet saying “this probably required slightly less courage to tweet than your brave coming out; 11 days ago. But that’s absolutely fine. We believe the defence of gay rights requires a specifically LGB organisation. But there’s nothing wrong with respectful disagreement. Much love,” LGB Alliance tweeted.

The Adelaide United player has not replied to LGB Alliance’s follow up tweet, but hundreds of twitter users have called out the group for their insensitive and “passive aggressive” tweet.

 

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