Trans Qatari princess who shared ordeal in a letter in 2015, now granted asylum in Britain

A transgender Qatari princess who escaped from Qatar to the UK has now been granted asylum. The princess from the ruling Al Thani family had left her home country in fear for her life. 

The Sunday Times reported that Sheikha, the Qatari princess went into hiding in the UK with her girlfriend after escaping from a bodyguard in 2015 when she was with her family on a shopping trip to London.

Leaked documents show that the member of the emirate’s ruling Al Thani family told the Home Office that “growing up in Qatar has been the most difficult thing I have had to do” because “I never wanted to be put in this body”.

How Qatar is trying to clamp down on the LGBTQ+ community?

Seven European captains, including England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale, planned to wear One Love armbands in Qatar to promote inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights. They decided not to wear them after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions. Last month only, the World Cup Ambassador Khalid Salman, described homosexuality as ‘damage in the mind’ while speaking to a German broadcaster.

People protesting outside Qatar Embassy in the UK

The Sunday Times reported that the Preventative Security Department arrested LGBTQ+ Qataris for their sexuality, with at least six people beaten while detained between 2019 and September this year. 

According to Human Rights Watch, the country’s security forces also state that transgender women must undergo ‘conversion therapy’ at a government-sponsored ‘behavioural healthcare’ centre before being released.

What did the Qatari princess write in the letter?

In the leaked document seen by The Sunday Times, the princess said she had no option but to flee because their home country is very strict with the Sharia law, “I am born a female but was male on the inside. Being gay in Qatar is considered punishable by law and death. Qatar is extremely strict in Sharia.”

The hand-written documents also revealed how Sheikha felt depressed because she was not comfortable in her body.

People protesting outside Qatar Embassy in the UK

She said she wanted to “be a boy”, and had been banned from travelling without a male family member, the newspaper reported.

“I felt as though my life had been thrown in the garbage. I never wanted to marry my male cousins like the rest of my family. I am terrified of what my brothers are about to unleash. I am scared,” she wrote.

She adopted an English male name in 2015 in a name change deed.

How did the Qatari princess land in the UK?

According to interviews with asylum case workers in the United Kingdom, she intends to undergo sex reassignment surgery and marry her girlfriend, thereby starting a new life outside of Qatar. They were granted asylum in 2015 and given permission to stay for five years as refugees.

As the World Cup continues, some LGBTQ+ fans have chosen to stay away due to safety concerns.

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