A round-up of recent news related to LGBTIQ+ human rights in Qatar, including reports in the i, the New York Times and Bloomberg, plus the latest comment and opinion
‘Qatari officials gang raped me for being gay’: The truth about how the World Cup hosts treat LGBT people (2 November)
Special report in i, by award-winning journalist Patrick Strudwick
Strudwick interviews a Filipino man called ‘Ali’ who says he was working in Qatar as an office assistant in 2018. He claims he was the victim of a gang rape by police officers after being lured to a ‘fake date’ and was later deported.
He also speaks to ‘Ajay’, an Indian man who arrived in Doha in 2018 looking for work and who says he was subjected to threats by a Qatari man on a gay dating app. Ajay says a friend of his was deported back to India after falling victim to a honeytrap.
Strudwick writes: “It is unsafe even to report how i found some of the contributors to this story – exposing the channels through which they were discovered could endanger their lives. None of the human rights charities in Britain or abroad that i approached helped find our interviewees. Not because they didn’t want to but because they couldn’t. They had no access to a single LGBT person in Qatar who would even speak anonymously.”
The i article carries a response from a FIFA spokesperson who says “Qatar as a host country is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to FIFA’s expectations and requirements on human rights, equality and non-discrimination.”
The article concludes: “The Qatari government did not respond to i’s request for comment.”
Qatar Offered Fans Free World Cup Trips, but Only on Its Terms (3 November)
The New York Times, by Tariq Panja
Panja, the NYT’s global sports reporter, writes about how “well-connected and well-known” fans of World Cup teams from every FIFA confederation received invitations in September from Qatari organisers to attend the tournament, with tickets, travel and accommodation paid for. In return, they are expected to post and share promotional material on social media.
This information was first reported on 30 October in Dutch media outlet NOS.
Panja writes: “The fan leaders have also signed up to be on the lookout for such negativity in comments on their posts; a clause in the code of conduct asks that they “report any offensive, degrading or abusive comments” to the organizers. Where possible, the code says, they should supply screenshots of any offending posts. Those who breach regulations are warned that they could be dismissed from the program.”
Ahsan Mansoor, the fan engagement director for the 2022 World Cup, defended the scheme saying of the fans who have accepted the invitations: “They don’t have any formal or contractual association with the World Cup, and they are not ambassadors for it.”
Qatar World Cup May Allow Rainbow Flags, Political Protests (1 November)
Bloomberg, by Simone Foxman
Also reported by Front Office Sports
Foxman, a correspondent based in Qatar, reports on a presentation on policing procedures “created by FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022” that has been seen by Bloomberg. The report claims that the presentation is a guide for security officials and tells them “not to approach, detain or prosecute people displaying rainbow flags… or disrupt fans marching and chanting in the streets”.
The article continues: “The presentation describes the guidelines as being aligned with the Safety and Security Operations Committee, an entity made up of officials from FIFA and the Qatar Ministry of Interior created to manage security at the tournament.
“A representative for the Qatar government declined to comment. A spokesman for the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the main Qatari organizing committee for the event, said it was aware of the document, but said it did not develop or approve its contents. A spokesperson for FIFA declined to comment.”
Responding to the article on behalf of Human Rights Watch, senior women’s rights researcher Rothna Begum says: “It’s important that the Qatari authorities issue a moratorium to charges that discriminate or criminalize peaceful exercise of human rights, but this should apply to all, not just to visiting fans, and be a first step towards repealing such crimes altogether.”
Comment and Opinion
Qatar calling its critics racist opens a debate that may be worth having (3 November)
Barney Ronay, for The Guardian
Opinion: Let’s call out the Qatar World Cup for what it really is (1 November)
Roger Bennett and Tommy Vietor of the podcast World Corrupt, for CNN