Football has had a tumultuous year so far. A nation with little tolerance for the LGBTQ population is hosting the World Cup in the same year football has been a big advocate for the LGBTQ community.
The fact that the pendulum recently turned so much in favor of queer visibility and acceptance in sports only exacerbated this absurd reality. In a World Cup filled with so much controversy, Qatar has only made things worse by failing to make a clear statement about LGBTQ rights in the tournament.
Follow Half A Goal for more in-depth football analysis on controversies surrounding the 2022 World Cup. Here we look at the events that led to this decision by the LGBTQ community.
Reason The Community Is Scared Of Qatar
- As the organizing organization for the World Cup in Qatar, the Supreme Committee, is hesitant to offer any assurances, fears for LGBTQ+ soccer fans planning to come to the tournament remain unchanged. According to prior statements by Qatari officials, rainbow flags will be permitted at the event. This was the evasive response to every query about LGBTQ rights.
- A senior security official in charge of the tournament said in April 2022 that there were plans to take pride flags away from spectators as a safety precaution to keep them from fighting with anti-LGBT supporters.
- Former football player and Qatari World Cup promotion officer Khalid Salman stated that homosexuality is an “injury in the head” on November 2022. He said that everyone would have to concede that they must follow the laws of the land. The LGBTQ+ community is encouraged to keep their expression to a minimum during the World Cup out of safety.
- Qatar has stated that everyone is welcome, including LGBTQ supporters, but visitors should respect the country’s customs, in which anyone’s public displays of affection are discouraged. They have infringed on the rights to the expression of individuals that belong to the LGBTQ community.
Qatar’s Perception Of The LGBTQ Community
Due to its history with labor rights and regulations that make same-sex sexual behavior illegal, the decision to award Qatar the responsibility of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 has drawn significant criticism.
In 2013, a number of Gulf States, including Qatar, proposed the introduction of tests to bar LGBT people from entering the country. Dr. Yousuf Mendakar, director of Kuwait’s Public Health Department, explained that the proposed plan would have health centers examine travelers’ medical records to detect their sexual orientation allegedly.
Despite the proposal’s failure, Qatar’s hatred of the LGBTQ people continues to be unrivaled.
Qatar’s Laws Against The LGBTQ Community
- Articles 281 and 285 of the 2004 Penal Code
Sexual contact between two people of the same sex “without pressure, duress, or ruse” is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail under Articles 281 and 285. Since the clause is gender-neutral with regard to the other party, it covers same-sex relationships between women.
With a sentence of one to three years in jail, Article 296 makes it illegal to “guide, incite, or seduce a male in any way to commit sodomy” and “induce or seduce a male or female in any way to perform illegal or immoral actions.
- Muslim law
Men who engage in same-sex relations may face the death penalty in Qatar’s Sharia courts in addition to the provisions of the Penal Code mentioned earlier.
Reactions Of The LGBTQ Community
Some LGBTQ rights activists are taking advantage of the occasion to urgently call attention to the circumstances of LGBTQ residents and citizens in Qatar. They want to express their worries about how these folks might be treated once the competition is over and the international media attention diminishes.
- German soccer fan Dario Minden claimed he wouldn’t watch a single second of the event out of sympathy for LGBTQ people in Qatar. He recently seized the chance to advocate for reform.
- While Qatari officials have provided some comfort for LGBTQ supporters, Rasha Younes, senior researcher for LGBTQ rights in the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, said that there is still a chance of stigma and discrimination in housing, access to healthcare, and safely reporting potential sexual assault.
- A coalition of LGBTQ rights organizations submitted demands to FIFA and the Qatari organizers, according to Josie Nixon of the You Can Play Project, which promotes the inclusion of LGBTQ athletes. These included removing discriminatory laws, offering “clear safety guarantees” against harassment, arrest, or incarceration, and making efforts to guarantee the long-term safety of LGBTQ individuals in the area.
- One of those arguing that LGBTQ individuals in Qatar are not receiving enough worldwide attention is Dr. Nasser Mohamed, an openly gay activist from Qatar who currently resides in the United States. Before the World Cup, he publicly came out and pushed to have the topic broadened.
Qatar’s hatred for the LGBTQ community is not hidden, and the community might just have to sit out this World Cup if a public statement is not released, ensuring their safety in Qatar. The World Cup scenario has brought attention to Qatar and how much they do not tolerate the so-called Western Culture.
Moving on, so far, it’s best advised that the LGBTQ community either sit out the World Cup or try and abide by Qatar’s rules while they are there.