Human Rights Watch reports jail beatings of LGBTQ community ahead of World Cup in Qatar – The New Indian Express

By AFP

BEIRUT: Police in Qatar have arbitrarily detained and abused members of the LGBTQ community ahead of the World Cup next month, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Monday.

The Gulf state, where homosexuality is illegal, strongly denied that anyone has been detained because of their sexual orientation and condemned the reports by the human rights group.

HRW said it had “documented six cases of repeated severe beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022.”

The most recent case was in September, the US-based human rights group said.

Four transgender women, a bisexual woman and a gay man recounted how members of the Department of Preventive Security of the Ministry of the Interior detained them in an underground prison in Doha.

There they “verbally harassed and subjected the detainees to physical mistreatment, ranging from slapping to kicking and punching to making them bleed,” HRW said.

“One woman said she lost consciousness. Security officers also inflicted verbal abuse, extracted coerced confessions and denied detainees access to lawyers, family and medical care.”

A bisexual woman from Qatar said she was beaten until she “lost consciousness several times”.

The report added that a transgender woman from Qatar recounted how she was detained once for two months in an underground cell and once for six weeks.

“They beat me every day and shaved my hair off. They also made me take off my shirt and took a picture of my breasts,” she said.

She said that she had suffered from depression and had been afraid to go out in public ever since.

In all cases, the detainees were forced to unlock their phones and the contact information of other LGBTQ people was taken from them, HRW said.

Sex outside of marriage and homosexual sex are illegal in the conservative Muslim state and can be punished by up to seven years in prison.

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But none of the detainees said they had been charged.

‘categorically false’

HRW said the six appeared to have been detained under a 2002 law that allows detention for up to six months without charge if “there are well-founded reasons to believe that the defendant may have committed a crime,” including “violation of the public morality”. ‘”.

A Qatari government official said the allegations were “categorically and unequivocally false.”

“Qatar does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, and our policies and procedures are backed by a commitment to human rights for all.”

The official said the government has held talks with HRW and other critical groups, but the latest “claims did not come to our attention until they were first reported in the media. If Human Rights Watch had contacted us, we would have been able to refute the accusations.

The official insisted that “conversion centers” do not operate in the country, although it does have a rehabilitation clinic that cares for people suffering from behavioral conditions such as substance dependence, eating disorders and mood disorders.

The official said that HRW’s decision to “spread demonstrably false information… compromises its self-proclaimed commitment to reporting the truth.”

The human rights group called on the Doha government to “end ill-treatment of LGBTQ people by security forces, including by stopping any government-sponsored programs aimed at conversion practices.”

HRW also urged FIFA, the world soccer body, to pressure Qatar to initiate reforms that protect LGBTQ people.

Qatar World Cup organizers have increased assurances in recent weeks that all fans would be “welcome” at the World Cup.

FIFA has said LGBTQ rainbow flags would be allowed in and around stadiums.

England’s Harry Kane is one of several European team captains who have said they will wear “OneLove” armbands to World Cup games to highlight rights concerns.

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