Measures to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar remain inadequate with less than eight months to go to the World Cup, groups supporting the community have said.
Same-sex relationships are directly criminalised under the laws of the Gulf state, leading to concerns over the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people visiting the country for the tournament and those from that community who reside there.
An international grouping of 16 organisations focused on LGBTQ+ rights has issued eight action points to the tournament organisers Fifa and the local organising committee.
These include repealing laws that target LGBTQ+ people, providing explicit safety guarantees to members of the community, guaranteed right of entry to Qatar, the communication of a clear welcome and of the right to free expression and ensuring there is no censorship or ban on the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues.
The group said in a letter that Fifa had responded in writing but that Qatar's Supreme Committee, in charge of World Cup delivery, had not yet.
“Progress has been slow, reassurances about the safety of LGBTIQ+ people and the mechanisms in place to ensure safety have not been adequate,” the letter stated. “If acknowledgment of the issues facing LGBTIQ+ people in Qatar and reassurances of safety cannot be offered, we will be forced to question if the risk facing LGBTIQ+ people wanting to attend or work at the World Cup in Qatar is too high.
“Further meetings are planned with both Fifa and the Supreme Committee in the coming weeks where it is hoped progress can be made.”
The letter added that a failure to act in the run-up to the tournament could be viewed as an endorsement of the laws as they stand and make life for LGBTQ+ visitors and residents even tougher in the future.
The groups who co-signed the letter were Athlete Ally, Discover Football, the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Association, the Fare network, the Federation of Gay Games, Football v Homophobia, Hidayah, the International Supporters Council, ILGA World, ILGA Asia, Leap Sports, Pride House International, MantiQitna, Mosaic, Queer Khaleeji and You Can Play.
Nassar al-Khater, the Qatar World Cup chief executive, has previously 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 talked then about “a lot of training going into security personnel” and said: “Public displays of affection is frowned upon, it’s not part of our culture – but that goes across the board to everybody.”