More than a million football fans from around the world are expected to flock to Qatar for next month’s FIFA World Cup, but as the international competition draws nearer, concerns over how the Gulf nations treat LGBTQ visitors are growing. are growing concerns.
Australia’s men’s soccer team released a video on Wednesday calling on Qatar to decriminalize same-sex relations and improve treatment of migrant workers.
“These are basic rights that should be given to everyone and ensure our continued progress in Qatar,” said one of the players. This will ensure a legacy well beyond the final whistle of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. ”
British LGBTQ activist Peter Tatchel held a sign reading “Qatar arrests and converts LGBT” and wore a T-shirt reading “#QatarAntiGay” outside the Qatar National Museum on Tuesday. I stood for 35 minutes. Mr Tatchel, who was a leading member of the UK’s Gay Liberation Front, said he was told to leave the country immediately after Qatari police detained him for 49 minutes. Qatar’s government communications agency denied that Tatchel had been arrested or detained, saying Tatchel had been “heartily” asked by police to leave.
In a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ community and in violation of FIFA uniform rules, eight of Europe’s football teams joined forces last month to wear armbands adorned with rainbow hearts and ‘One Love’ at international competitions. Announced.
Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country to host a World Cup, is one of 11 countries (including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran) where homosexuality is punishable by death.
For months, human rights activists and athletes have organized FIFA’s first international competition, starting November 20, in the conservative Muslim country for its treatment of LGBTQ people, women and migrant workers. have been criticized for
In a statement shared with NBC News, a FIFA spokesperson said, “FIFA is committed to ensuring that LGBTIQ+ fans and allies enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, just like everyone else. I am confident that all necessary measures will be taken.”
An official with the Qatar government communications agency told NBC News on Friday that “fans are free to express their opinions during the World Cup” but will be asked to “respect local values and culture.” .
“Like many other countries in our region, overt displays of affection are not part of our culture, including heterosexuals,” the official said in an email. We value privacy and respect, and these values apply to everyone.”
In an interview Wednesday with British broadcaster Times Radio, the British ambassador to Qatar, Fahd bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, did little to assuage concerns. Asked if same-sex couples were allowed to hold hands and kiss in public, the ambassador said, “In some countries, there are certain interpretations of what constitutes public displays of affection. It may be different in another country, and in that respect we have to keep in mind the norms and culture of Qatari society.”
The ambassador added that he could not stop same-sex couples from sharing hotel rooms.
Dealing with Wednesday’s fears, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley was no longer emboldened. Talk to LBC Radio Qatar said: “We are trying to let people enjoy football in their own way.
Christian Coates-Ulrissen, Middle East fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, said the Qatari government would be wise to “turn a blind eye” to visits by LGBTQ people and couples.Internationally negative The high profile risk would overshadow the success of hosting an internationally respected sporting event, he said.
“This has been a key component of Qatar’s development plan for more than a decade and demonstrates Qatar as an ambitious nation and with significant plans to play a greater role in international affairs. It was part of the way we announced,” said Ulrichsen.To the World Cup.
Scrutiny of how Qatar treats its own LGBTQ people is also gaining momentum ahead of the World Cup.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing six and five cases of alleged severe and repeated beatings. Alleged Cases of sexual harassment against LGBTQ people detained by Qatari police between 2019 and September this year. The Qatari government denied the allegations made in the report.
Rasha Younes, a researcher on LGBTQ rights in the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch and author of the new report, sees how LGBTQ solidarity manifestations influence Qatar’s domestic policy. said he wanted.
“We will continue to monitor the situation, not only what happens during the World Cup, but also after the fans around the world have left, the media attention has faded, and we will continue to monitor the situation and provide a true and sincere response to Qatar’s LGBTQ residents who are currently speaking. I’m also interested in showing a commitment, for the first time to go out and sound the alarm about the human rights abuses they face by the security forces,” she said.
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