Police seize LGBT+ campaigner 26 days before World Cup
25 October 2022
LGBT+ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was arrested in Qatar today outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha while staging a one-man protest against Qatar’s criminalisation of LGBT+ people – just 26 days before the start of the football World Cup.
This is the first ever public LGBT+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state.
Mr Tatchell was holding a placard supporting Qatari LGBT+ people who live under one of the most repressive regimes in the world that criminalises both male and female homosexuality, with sentences that can include three years jail and death by stoning. His placard read: “Qatar arrests, jails & subjects LGBTs to ‘conversion’ #QatarAntiGay.” He wore a t-shirt with the hashtag: #QatarAntiGay
The current whereabouts of Mr Tatchell are unknown.
Speaking from Qatar shortly before his protest, Peter Tatchell said:
“There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Qatar. It is a homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship.
“Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation. It is using the World Cup to enhance its international image. We must ensure that the tyrant regime in Doha does not score a PR victory.
“I did this protest to shine a light on Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBT+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris. I am supporting their brave battle against tyranny.
“LGBT+ Qataris face police harassment, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing, arrest, three years jail and potentially the death penalty. Qatar has secret gay conversion centres where LGBT+ people can be detained and subjected to abusive attempts to turn them straight.
“Women must get permission from a male guardian to marry, work in many government jobs and to study and travel abroad.
“Over 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup. Many families are still waiting for compensation. Migrant workers complain of unpaid wages, overcrowded slum hostels and being refused permission to change jobs.”
Mr Tatchell added:
“Despite FIFA saying that discrimination will not be tolerated, if a Qatari footballer came out as gay, he would be more likely to be arrested and jailed than be selected for the national team. That’s discrimination and against FIFA’s rules.
“FIFA has failed to secure change in Qatar. There have been no legislative reforms on LGBT+ or women’s rights. Improvements for migrant workers have been patchy at best. FIFA is letting Qatar evade many of its pledges when it was granted the right to hold the World Cup,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell, aged 70, is Director of the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.