Safety concerns remain for LGBTIQ+ people in Qatar ahead of World Cup

Same-sex relationships are directly criminalised under the laws of the Gulf state

Measures to ensure the safety of LGBTIQ+ 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 well-being of LGBTQI+ people visiting the country for the tournament and those from that community who reside there.

An international grouping of 16 organisations focused on LGBTQI+ rights has issued eight action points to tournament organisers Fifa and the local organising committee.

These include the repealing of laws that target LGBTIQ+ people, the provision of 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 LGBTIQ+ issues.

The group said in a letter sent to the PA news agency 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 acknowledgement 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 for the laws as they stand and make life for LGBTIQ+ visitors and residents even tougher in the future.

“There is also widespread concern that local Qatari LGBTIQ+ people will not benefit from the hosting of the World Cup through increased freedoms, acceptance or being granted new rights,” it said.

“The fear is that the World Cup may lead to them being further marginalised through international acceptance of the country’s position being seen as endorsement.”

The groups who co-signed the letter included 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.

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