Exposing homophobia, denial of women’s rights, exploitation of migrant labour and other human rights abuses in Qatar, in advance of the football World Cup in 2022

Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup. It is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Like all GCC member states, it has a ban on homosexuality with a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment under the penal code and, under Sharia law, execution. Public advocacy of LGBT+ rights and displays of same-sex affection are illegal and punishable by incarceration. No organisations are specifically addressing the implications of anti-gay laws for LGBT+ players and fans during the World Cup.

Qatari women have no legal protection against domestic violence or marital rape. A woman can only marry with the permission of her male guardian and with two male witnesses present. Women also suffer legal discrimination in divorce, inheritance, child custody, nationality and freedom of movement.

Conditions for migrant workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries involved in the Qatar World Cup construction sites are tantamount to modern slavery. They live in overcrowded slum conditions and work 10-hour days in 40-50 degree heat, with few breaks and little access to water. They are barred from exiting Qatar without their employer’s permission. 1,000 migrant workers are dying every year, according to Qatari government statistics, published in an ITUC report in late 2015. FIFA, which manages the World Cup and selects the host nation, has failed to secure the remedying of these abuses.

Peter Tatchell has criticised Qatar’s dismal human rights and labour rights record in the media. He called on FIFA to cancel the World Cup in Qatar when in 2013 GCC member countries announced new plans to “detect” and ban gay people from entering their countries.

Few organisations are doing advocacy work on human rights abuses in Qatar. Our actions will expose and highlight abuses and put pressure on FIFA to demand improved standards and safeguards, to the benefit of Qatari citizens and migrant workers. The upcoming World Cup in Qatar in 2022 is our best opportunity to encourage Qatar to liberalise, which could eventually have a knock-on effect in other GCC countries.