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Qatar to allow Pride flags during 2022 World Cup – but will still lock up gay men for having sex

Patrick Kelleher December 9, 2020
Qatar will allow Pride flags to be flown during the 2022 World Cup

Pride flags will be allowed at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but LGBT+ people will have to respect the country's homophobic "culture". (Envato Elements)

Qatar will allow Pride flags to be flown at the 2022 World Cup – but the starkly homophobic country will still expect visitors to respect its “culture”.

There was outcry from LGBT+ football fans in 2010 when it was announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, despite the country’s harsh laws. Homosexuality is illegal in the Arabic country, with gay sex punishable by up to three years in prison or the death penalty for Muslims under Sharia law.

Now, Qatar’s World Cup leadership team has assured Fifa that pro-LGBT+ displays will not be removed – including Pride flags.

“When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,” Nasser Al-Khater, 2022 World Cup chief executive, told the Associated Press.

“Whatever they may be, we will respect them.”

He added: “We have a country that’s conservative, however we are a welcoming country.

“We are open and welcoming – hospitable. We understand the difference in people’s cultures. We understand the difference in people’s beliefs and so I think, again, everybody will be welcome and everybody will be treated with respect.

“Just like our culture is a culture of this world, we also expect people to respect our culture. I think there’s a balance and there’s a feeling that people will respect people from everywhere.”

Allowing Pride flags at Qatar World Cup won’t help LGBT+ community

Chris Paouros, a member of the English Football Association’s inclusion advisory board, told the Associated Press that allowing Pride flags at the 2022 World Cup amounts to “window dressing” when LGBT+ people in Qatar are still face persecution under the law.

“What it doesn’t do is help the LGBTQ+ community,” Paouros said.

“It’s great for us to be able to go and put our flags up in the stadium, and that’s wonderful during a World Cup. You want it to be the festival of football.

“But ultimately we do the work because we want to make sure that everybody can be free to be who they are and if you’re a Qatari and you’re not able to, then it just feels like window dressing.”

Speaking to the Associated Foreign Press in September 2019, Al-Khater insisted that LGBT+ fans will be safe in Qatar at the World Cup – but said they should refrain from public displays of affection.

“The safety and security of every single fan is of the utmost importance to us,” Khater said at the time.

“There’s a lot of training going into security personnel to make sure that things that are culturally different are seen in that frame.

“Public displays of affection is frowned upon, it’s not part of our culture – but that goes across the board to everybody.”

When Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 World Cup in 2010, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said gay fans should “refrain” from having sex in the starkly homophobic country.

When asked about concerns over the treatment of gay fans at the event, he laughed the question off and said: “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”

More: Qatar, world cup

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