(CNN) — British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is receiving backlash for suggesting gay soccer fans should be "respectful" in Qatar when attending the FIFA World Cup set to take place in the Gulf Arab state later this year.Speaking to LBC Radio on Wednesday, Cleverly said he had spoken with authorities in Qatar -- where homosexuality is criminalized -- who "want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves."He continued: "And they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country, with a very different set of cultural norms to our own."One of the things I would say to the football fans is, you know: 'Please do be respectful of the host nation.'"They [Qatar] will try -- they are trying -- to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup," the foreign secretary added.New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman distanced themselves from the comments, saying, "We wouldn't expect [LGBTQ fans] to compromise who they are and you'll know the UK has very clear rules around this.
Qatar's policies are not those of the UK government and not ones that we would endorse."Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell of UK's main opposition Labour party slammed Cleverly's comments, calling it "shockingly tone deaf" in a tweet."Where do you draw the line on that?" she said in an interview with LBC Radio.