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Qatar World Cup: Letter warns of inadequate safety measures for the LGBTQ community

16 LGBTQ groups have signed a letter warning of safety risks and concerns for fans travelling for the World Cup.

2022-03-31

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

A group of 16 LGBTQ organisations is warning that measures to protect the LGBTQ community for the World Cup in Qatar aren't adequate.

The group, featuring the ILGA World and Football v Homophobia, has given the competition's organisers and FIFA, football's governing body, a series of recommendations. 

These are: repealing laws that target LGBTQ people, explicit safety guarantees, guaranteed right of entry to Qatar, the communication of a clear welcome and of the right to free expression, no censorship of LGBTQ issues, training to deal with the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ facilities in stadiums and working on the long-term safety of the LGBTQ community.

"It is hoped progress can be made"

According to PA, as reported by The Independent, FIFA had responded to the group's concerns but Qatar’s Supreme Committee has not.

The letter reads: "Progress has been slow, reassurances about the safety of LGBTIQ+ people and the mechanisms in place to ensure safety have not been adequate.

It also says: "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," it adds.

The letter also expresses concern that a failure to act could be seen as support for the laws and make the situation for LGBTQ people in Qatar even worse than at present. 

Homosexuality is illegal in the Middle-Eastern country and punishable with up to three years in prison, or death under Sharia law.

"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," the letter says.

The groups who have signed the letter are: 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.

Nasser al-Khater, the chief executive of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, said in 2019: "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."

The head of the Football Association in England, Mark Bullinghamtold reporters last year: "We have been given those assurances that people from the LGBTQ communities will be allowed to go to Qatar and support the team."

The World Cup takes place in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022.

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