Qatar seizes ‘un-Islamic’ rainbow-coloured kids’ toys: ‘This proves Qatar remains homophobic’
Officials in Qatar have seized rainbow-coloured children’s toys – similar to LGBT+ flags – for bearing “slogans” contrary to “Islamic values”.
The country’s ministry of commerce and industry said on Twitter that it had carried out “inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions” across the country.
The tweet was accompanied by a picture of several kaleidoscopic toys in a store, which appear to be several stress balls and fidget toys in varying shapes.
“The campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values,” the government ministry wrote.
#MOCIQATAR carried out inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions across #Qatar, the campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children's toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values.
— وزارة التجارة والصناعة (@MOCIQatar) December 20, 2021
In a separate statement, the government ministry encouraged people in Qatar to “report any product bearing logos or designs contrary to our traditions”, AFP reported.
Human rights and LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called the seizing of rainbow toys a “new low for the tyrant regime in Qatar”. He told Metro.co.uk that it was an “absurd, over-the-top response by a paranoid regime”.
“The seized toys were in pretty rainbow colours, but none were promoting homosexuality, as government officials claim,” Tatchell said. “This proves that Qatar remains viciously homophobic and that its self-proclaimed new liberal image is a fraud and mere PR spin.”
Openly gay Australian football star Josh Cavallo voiced his concerns last month about potentially travelling to Qatar for any future matches. Cavallo said he is “very scared” of the country’s severe anti-gay laws and “wouldn’t really want to go to Qatar” as a result.
Qatar’s track record on human rights and LGBT+ rights has been under increased scrutiny in recent years after the country won hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup back in 2010.
Last year, Qatar’s World Cup leadership team assured FIFA that it will allow Pride flags and pro-LGBT+ displays to be featured at the 2022 World Cup. The team’s chief executive said at the time that Qatar is a country that is “conservative” but is also understanding of the “difference in people’s cultures” and “people’s beliefs”.
However, this small gesture flies in the face of the fact that LGBT+ people face severe persecution in Qatar. It is illegal to be gay in the Gulf state and is punishable by imprisonment and death in some circumstances.
Olympic diver Tom Daley has openly criticised top sporting events being hosted in notoriously homophobic countries. He has even called for countries where being LGBT+ is punishable by death to be banned from competing in the Olympics.
In his Alternative Christmas Message for Channel 4, the diver questioned why World Cup is being held in Qatar, which he described as “the second most dangerous country for queer people”.
“Why are we allowing places that aren’t safe for all fans and all players to host our most prestigious sporting events?” Daley asked.
Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has also spoken out against Qatar’s anti-LGBT+ laws, even wearing a Progressive Pride helmet for the country Grand Prix.
Speaking ahead of the race in November, Hamilton believed athletes are “duty bound to raise awareness” when visiting areas that have abysmal track records on human rights issues.
“These places need scrutiny from the media to speak about these things,” Hamilton added. “Equal rights is a serious issue.”