A furious dispute has erupted after an American journalist covering the soccer World Cup was arrested for wearing a rainbow shirt to support the LGBTQIA+ community. What are Qatar’s LGBTQIA+ laws and how have you treated the community? And how do the Qataris feel about them? he keeps reading…
Soccer captains of seven European teams wore rainbow armbands during the World Cup in Qatar to promote diversity and inclusion. However, after facing the threat of sanctions from FIFA, they were forced to drop the One Love campaign gesture.
By Tirtho Banerjee: “Take off your shirt (rainbow); It’s not allowed,” Qatari security ordered an American sportswriter as he tried to enter the Al Rayyan Stadium, where the opening World Cup match between the United States and Wales was about to kick off on Tuesday.
Grant Wahl, the journalist, tweeted that he was detained for almost half an hour (for wearing the rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQIA+ community).
The tweet drew mixed responses, with some endorsing Wahl while others, mostly Qatari citizens, instructed him to respect the country’s laws and the country’s culture.
In a strong reaction, Dr. Nayef bin Nahar, an outspoken Qatari academic, said: “As a Qatari, I am proud of what happened. I don’t know when Westerners will realize that their values are not universal. There are other cultures with different values that must be equally respected. Let us not forget that the West is not the mouthpiece of humanity”.
“Respect the culture of the region and follow the rules like a civilized person,” another Qatari tweeted.
Previously, soccer captains of seven European teams wore rainbow armbands during the World Cup in Qatar to promote diversity and inclusion. However, after facing sanction threats from FIFA, they were forced to drop the One Love campaign gesture.
In a 2020 statement, Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk said: “This is an important message that suits the game of football: on the pitch, everyone is equal and this should be the case everywhere. of the society. With the band OneLove we express this message.”
WHAT DOES THE LAW OF THE COUNTRY SAY?
Qatar considers homosexual acts to be immoral under Islamic Sharia law. are illegal The law in Qatar punishes a person with a prison sentence of one to three years for “inducing or enticing a man or woman in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions”.
The penalties can also reach up to seven years in prison and even death by stoning, in addition to a large fine.
The law also requires a similar punishment for anyone who is “instigating” or “enticing” a man to “commit sodomy.” Men and women can face action under the 2004 Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual relations.
Since 2004, article 296 of the current Penal Code (Law 11/2004) provides for prison sentences of one to three years for sodomy between men.
The death penalty for same-sex sex applies only to gay Muslims because extramarital sex (regardless of gender) is punishable by death and because same-gender couples cannot marry.
In Qatar, there are cultural customs that view homosexuality and cross-dressing negatively. The Qatari government prohibits same-sex marriage and does not allow people in Qatar to campaign for LGBTQIA rights.
The sale of alcohol is also restricted in Qatar. Visitors are not allowed to bring alcohol into the country, even from the duty-free section of the airport. Beer sells for $15 (Rs 1,224) per pint at some select hotels. FIFA banned drinking alcohol in stadiums during the World Cup.
In October this year, Human Rights Watch said Qatari Preventive Security Department forces arbitrarily arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and mistreated them in custody. Human Rights Watch documented six cases of repeated severe beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022.
Security forces arrested people in public places based solely on their gender expression and illegally searched their phones. As a requirement for their release, security forces ordered detained transgender women to attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored “behavioral health” center, a report said.
In 2016, Instagram star King Luxy from Poland was arrested in Qatar for allegedly being gay. According to reports, she had to spend two months in custody before being released.
In 1998, a US citizen visiting Qatar was reportedly sentenced to six months in prison and 90 lashes for homosexual activity.
In November 2008, British singer George Michael gave a brilliant performance at a concert in Qatar, becoming the first openly gay musician to do so in the Gulf country.
‘IT IS HARAM: RESPECT OUR CULTURE’
Some time ago, a Qatari government official had said that the host of the World Cup was an inclusive country. “Everyone is welcome in Qatar.” He added: “Our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people, regardless of background.” However, Qatar 2022 CEO Nasser al Khater categorically stated that the government will not change its laws on homosexuality and called on visitors to “respect our culture.”
A statement from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is responsible for World Cup planning, said it was committed to an “inclusive and discrimination-free” World Cup. He added: “But we are a conservative country and any public display of affection, regardless of orientation, is frowned upon. We just ask people to respect our culture.”
During an interview in September, World Cup ambassador and former soccer player Khalid Salman said homosexuality was “mental damage.”
Before the tournament, he told German public broadcaster ZDF that being gay is “haram” (forbidden).
Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010. Interestingly, in 2016, FIFA adopted the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The principles require that it “avoid infringing on the human rights of others and address adverse human rights impacts”.