FIFA World Cup Fans Vs Qatar’s LGBT Rights: Partial Acceptance of Homosexuality

Almost every person related to the LGBT community considers the Middle East to be a conservative region. Yet tourism ministries of respective countries promote themselves as friendly tourist spots. Likewise, Qatar’s LGBT rights project a picture quite opposite from its claims of being a welcoming country for everyone.

As the host of FIFA World Cup 2022, the organising committee has repeatedly stressed that all LGBT fans and players are safe in Qatar and can be a part of the grand sporting event if they respect Qatari laws. Chief Executive of FIFA 2022 World Cup, Nassar al-Khater stated in a press conference, “I would like to assure any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the most safe countries in the world — and they’ll all be welcome here”.

A closer look to Qatar’s LGBT rights will help us to understand that all such claims are directed to boost tourist arrivals amidst FIFA 2022 World Cup. Aiming to forecast inclusion and tolerance, Qatar has permitted use of rainbow flags and displays in the stadiums during the matches. Although appreciated for allowing homosexuals to be who they are, this decision doesn’t improve living conditions of residents struggling against Qatar’s LGBT rights. According to a member of the English Football Association’s inclusion advisory board — Chris Paouros, “What it doesn’t do is help the LGBTQ+ Qatari community”

For football fans in Qatar, the tournament will be quite dreamy as they won’t face legal challenges for publically announcing their identity. As per Qatari laws, “leading, instigating, or seducing a male in any way to commit sodomy”, yet the country has reversed tables for the football event. Many LGBT activists have emphasised how the country seems to be partially accepting homosexuality but isn’t doing much to revoke its conservative laws and introduce a permanent change.

Listed as the second most dangerous country on journalist Lyric Fergusson’s “LGBTQ+ Danger Index, Qatar seems to be quite a dangerous country for LGBT tourists. Tony Burnett, an active employee of Kick It Out (football’s equality and inclusion organisation) believes that the game of football has lot more to do to create an inclusive environment where everyone is comfortable. He added that hosting the event in a country where homosexuality is illegal gives the wrong message.

Since FIFA’s Code of Ethics assure the organisation’s commitment to eliminating discriminatory practises, the event being hosted in Qatar has raised questioned about FIFA’s seriousness towards its claims. It remains to be seen if the voice of thousands of LGBT activists will turn Qatar’s LGBT rights towards a permanent shift or the hypocrisy will continue to prevail!

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