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Long before the Western-centric coverage of homophobia and transphobia at the World Cup in Qatar, the state of Qatar maintained and continues to maintain the strict criminalization of gender non-conforming identities. The Penal Code effectively prohibits transgender expression and identity, resulting in de facto criminalization. Additionally, transgender people in Qatar have no access to legal gender recognition and no access to gender-affirming healthcare.


De-facto: The Qatari Police Force are legally entitled to detain individuals for up to six months on suspicion of violating public morality laws without arrest or trial so they may maintain public peace as per Article 1 and 2 of the Law No 17 of 2002 on Protection of Community. While there are no reports authored by the state concerning the arrests or detainment of trans people in Qatar, many trans people report to have been unfairly detained under these laws for simply appearing or behaving in a gender non-conforming manner.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of the aforementioned Criminal Procedure Law, in crimes involving state security, honor, decency or public morals, the Minister of Interior may, on the basis of a report submitted by the Director of Public Security, order the provisional detention of the defendant if there exist well founded reasons to believe that the defendant may have committed the crime(s) with which he/she is charged.”

“The duration of the provisional detention shall be two weeks, extendable for additional similar period or periods to a maximum of six months. The duration may be extended for an extra period not exceeding six months with the consent of the Prime Minister. The period of provisional detention shall be doubled if the offence relates to state security.”

As is the case in much of the Arab World, especially in the Arab Gulf, documenting human rights violations against transgender individuals is difficult due to overarching governmental issues like censorship laws, but also because of matters such as not receiving an official record of being arrested, detained, or imprisoned.

Legal Gender Recognition: 

Qatari citizens can request an amendment be made to their birth certificates as per the Law on Births and Death Records) Law No.3) (2016).

Any significant person may request any alteration, modification, or correction of the data on the name of the newborn or deceased in the records, except in relation to the surname or name of the tribe or family. The application is submitted to the Committee together with a certificate of birth, death or official copy, and all supporting documents.

The Committee shall examine the application and verify the authenticity of the data contained therein or the documents annexed thereto by all means at its disposal, within 15 days of the date of submission, and shall consider the expiration of this period without restitution as an implicit refusal of the application.

If the Committee establishes the validity and seriousness of the application, it orders that it be published in two newspapers on two occasions at the requestor’s expense. If no one objects within fifteen days of the date of publication, or submits an objection based on non-serious reasons, the Committee shall issue a decision to make the change, amendment, or correction requested.

The Committee sends its decision to the competent body to make the necessary change, modification, or correction and to give the stakeholder a new testimony.

However, both laws refer to executive bylaws and regulations which may be issued by the government to amend or clarify procedures. Applications for amendments are taken on a case-by-case basis. Names associated with certain genders or that have religious significance may be rejected for the sake of protecting public order.

Changing your legal gender marker in Qatar is not possible. There have been many legal efforts by intersex and trans people to access legal gender recognition by the state, but they have been unsuccessful.

Gender Affirming Healthcare: 

Access to gender affirming healthcare in Qatar is extremely limited. As per the state’s views on gender nonconformity, public hospitals do not offer any gender-affirming healthcare. Some forms of treatment might be found in private clinics, but this might not be accessible to everyone in Qatar due to legal, financial, or social purposes. Another option for accessing gender affirming healthcare is to go abroad, like how the plaintiffs from the aforementioned cases did when seeking out healthcare.

There are no specific fatwas pertaining to transgender individuals issued by the religious authorities in the country. However, as the country follows Sunni Islam, the fatwas issued by esteemed Sunni authorities such as Al-Azhar in Egypt and the Islamic Fiqh Council in Saudi Arabia are considered applicable. These fatwas prohibit transgender individuals from seeking gender-affirming healthcare and restrict sex reassignment surgeries to intersex individuals only.