Foreign Laws

Qatar is warning World Cup fans that what happens in Qatar may mean you stay in jail in Qatar. I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Before the World Cup comes to Philly and other North American venues in 2026, it will be held in Qatar this year, and FIFA is warning people that things that may be acceptable in other countries—like one night stands, for example—are illegal in the conservative country. Romantic relations outside of marriage are illegal there, as is the drinking of alcohol, and both can result in jail time up to seven years. 

In what may come as a shock to Americans, while diplomats generally have immunity from the laws of other countries, tourists don’t. Just ‘cause something is legal in the US doesn’t mean it’s legal in a foreign country. And if you break a foreign law, there’s often little the US government can do for you even if you were unaware your conduct was illegal.  So until the World Cup is safely back in the land where cheesesteaks are plentiful and romantic relations are your own business, if you’re traveling abroad be sure you know the rules of the home turf.

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