Is the world’s soccer association (FIFA) failing the LGBTQ+ communities?
If you identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ communities travelling to the soccer World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Middle East, this is what you need to be aware of.
What is different this World Cup?
The World Cup is a huge and exciting event, the first time for four years the whole world has played soccer in a global tournament. However, what’s different this year, is that it’s in a country that does not offer basic protections for LGBTQ+ people in their legal system; Qatar is a small oil rich country in the Middle East which uses a strict Islamic law called Sharia to enforce people’s behaviour. PinkUk’s advice for LGBTQ+ fans travelling to the 2022 World Cup is to consider carefully if it is worth the expense and risk.
Look after yourself!
You may have a great time and it might be worth the journey, but our message is: always be vigilant and be discrete in your behaviour. Be aware that despite what the Qatar authorities are saying, same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under Qatar’s Penal Code from 2004; it criminalises acts of ‘sodomy’ and ‘sexual intercourse’ between people of the same sex.
These provisions carry a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Both men and women are criminalised under this law. The constitution of Qatar designates Islam as the state religion, and Islamic law as the main source of legislation. As such, in addition to the Penal Code, Qatar operates an interpretation of Sharia law which criminalises sexual activity between men, under which it is possible that the death penalty can be imposed for sexual relations between people of the same sex.
At a press conference, Nassar al-Khater, the chief executive of the FIFA (the World Cup governing body), said: “I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world — and they’ll all be welcome here.”
He added: “The safety and security of every single fan is of the utmost importance to us. There’s a lot of training going into security personnel to make sure that things that are culturally different are seen in that frame.”
However England’s LGBTQ+ fan groups have been advised to stay away from the World Cup by local commentators in Qatar despite claims from FIFA and the World Cup organising committee that it would be safe for them to visit.
FIFA should never have agreed to hold the World Cup in Qatar while these discriminatory laws are in place. Why they agreed is a matter of debate. It puts LGBTQ+ fans at risk without the legal protections which are their right.
Discrimination takes many forms so for example note the dozens of official FIFA-approved World Cup hotels in Qatar who refuse to allow LGBTQ+ guests in their hotels or request that same-sex couples modify their behaviour and to “act straight” and do not dress in a ‘gay manner’. This is not a country we would recommend visiting at this time whatever assurances World Cup bosses offer.
According to US current affairs magazine Newsweek, Stonewall, the UK LGBTQ+ lobby group says Qatar is not a safe country to travel to if you are a LGBTQ+ identifying soccer fan. So be careful. If you do go, we hope you have a great holiday and hope your team show its talent. Just be on your guard and we would be grateful if you could report back if you have any problems.
Once you get back, we would like to know how it all went.
To sum up:
The World cup should not have been held in Qatar
- Qatar’s policy on LGBTQ equality and rights
- Qatar’s record on human rights more generally
- Qatar is too small a country (the size of Yorkshire and a population of 3 million people) to hold this event
- Qatar may be too hot, even in winter, to hold the tournament
The FIFA needs to answer some questions and why they chose this country.
Love and Pink respect from your fully out and proud team and in totally pink colours.
PinkUk team xxx
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