Peter Tatchell responds
26 October 2022
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he has not spoken with the Qatari government about campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he was arrested after staging an LGBT protest in the country in the run-up to the World Cup.
Mr Cleverly told LBC radio: “I haven’t spoken with the government of Qatar in direct response to Peter Tatchell, but my understanding is that he was questioned, that he was supported by the FCDO’s consular team.
“I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans going to watch the World Cup and how they will treat our fans and international fans. They want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves, and they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.
“One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation. They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.”
Asked whether he will go to the World Cup after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer signalled he will not, Mr Cleverly said: “If I am able to go, I should go because it is a major international event. There’ll be lots of my international interlocutors there and also there’ll be a whole load of Brits overseas.”
“I had great British consular support when I was detained, which probably resulted in me being eventually released without charge. James Cleverly must speak out against the appalling human rights abuses by the Qatari regime. If he goes to Qatar, Mr Cleverly will be colluding with the dictatorship and helping Qatar achieve its goal of sports washing its appalling record.
He should be encouraging all fans to boycott the World Cup and to use their social
media to amplify the shocking human rights violations by the Qatari state. Any fans or public figures who go to the World Cup will be colluding with a homophobic, sexist and racist regime.
LGBT+ fans may not be safe.
The assurances of the Qatari authorities are highly questionable. They have flip-flopped over rainbow flags in the stadium.
It is appalling that Mr Cleverley is urging fans to be respectful of the host nation, rather than calling them out over their repression.”