Qatar’s record on human rights and its treatment of LGBTQ people has attracted criticism from the wider world.
The nation was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010 and corruption allegations arose after, but the focus more recently has been on its human rights record.
Here’s how fans and teams are protesting the tournament.
The law in Qatar: “Whoever copulates with a male over sixteen years of age without compulsion, duress or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years. The same penalty shall apply to the male for his consent.” (Penal Code, Law No. 11 of 2004; Article 285) “Whoever commits the following offences shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of no less than one year and no more than three years: Leading, instigating or seducing a male by in any way to commit sodomy or dissipation; Inducing or seducing a male or a female in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions.” (Penal Code, Law No. 11 of 2004; Article 296)
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and is punishable with up to seven years in prison and a fine. In sharia law, the punishment for Muslims can be the death penalty, though there has been no recorded occurrence of this happening in Qatar.
Laws in Qatar are influenced by Islamic morality, so there is no legal recognition in the country for same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships.
General displays of public affection in Qatar can lead to arrest.
The following rights are not recognised in Qatar:
Qatar’s laws and views on LGBTQ rights and issues have drawn criticism to FIFA ever since it awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010.
It is the second consecutive World Cup in which LGBTQ football fans have had to decide whether or not to travel to a nation with a poor record with gay rights, after Russia in 2018. FIFA say they have received assurances from Qatari authorities regarding fan safety though specifics have not been shared, giving supporter groups little faith in any protection during the tournament.
Wales’ official LGBTQ+ supporters’ group will boycott the tournament as members believed it was unsafe to travel to the Middle East given the region’s human rights record.
Kick It Out has also announced the creation of a group looking at inclusivity problems in Qatar.
Many nations who have qualified for the tournament are planning ways of protesting Qatar’s human rights record. Denmark will wear messages in support of human rights on their training kit during the World Cup, having previousy worn t-shirts stating “Football supports change”.
Germany, the Netherlands and Norway are among other international sides to have made similar protests in recent years.
Nasser Al Khater, the chief executive of the tournament’s organising committee, says it has been “unfairly” treated since winning hosting rights in 2010. Openly gay footballer Josh Cavallo said he would be “scared” to play in Qatar due to the anti-LGBTQ laws, but Al Khater said he would be welcomed to the country.
In November 2021, he said: “On the contrary, we welcome him here in the state of Qatar, we welcome him to come and see even prior to the World Cup…nobody feels threatened here, nobody feels unsafe.
“The notion that people don’t feel safe here is untrue. I’ve said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here. Everybody is welcome here and everybody will feel safe here. Qatar is a tolerant country. It’s a welcoming country. It’s a hospitable country.”
He added: “Qatar and the region are a lot more modest, and Qatar and the region are a lot more conservative. And this is what we ask fans to respect. And we’re sure that fans will respect that….we respect different cultures and we expect other cultures to respect ours.”
In June 2022, the Guardian questioned the Supreme Committee – which organises the World Cup – on LGBTQ issues in Qatar including protection and the carrying of rainbow flags.
A general reply to the paper said: “Everyone will be welcome to Qatar in 2022, regardless of their race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality. We are a relatively conservative society – for example, public displays of affection are not a part of our culture. We believe in mutual respect and so whilst everyone is welcome, what we expect in return is for everyone to respect our culture and traditions.”
A Qatari security chief has since revealed rainbow and pride flags may be confiscated at the World Cup as a supposed safety measure to protect supporters from any anti-LGBTQ people.