ITV, BBC and FA urged to call out Qatar’s ‘dehumanising’ anti-LGBT+ laws by teen football fan
A schoolgirl has called on Britain’s biggest broadcasters, the FA and the prime minister to call out Qatar’s “dehumanising” anti-LGBT+ laws ahead of the World Cup.
In Qatar, which will host the World Cup in November and December this year, having same-sex relations is an imprisonable offence. Qatar also runs Sharia courts, where it is technically possible that queer Muslim men could be given a death sentence.
The decision to hold the football tournament in the Gulf nation has sparked immense backlash, and now a teenage LGBT+ football fan is calling on TV and football bosses to hold the country to account.
“When I heard the 2022 World Cup was being held in Qatar – one of the few remaining countries in the world with such dehumanising anti-equality laws – I was appalled,” Chloe, 15, wrote in a Change.org petition.
The teenager, from Thirsk, a market town in north Yorkshire, is urging the BBC, ITV and England’s Football Association to scrutinise Qatar for how it treats LGBT+ people.
In her petition, Chloe said that the BBC and ITV have a “duty to regularly highlight” Qatar’s barbaric anti-LGBT+ laws and should ensure that they involve queer sports pundits during their coverage.
“The BBC and ITV, which are planning on televising the Qatar World Cup, and the FA, which is sending a team to the tournament, all have stated promoting equality is at the heart of their core policies,” she wrote.
“As responsible public service broadcasters, the BBC and ITV have a duty to regularly highlight these issues during the many hours of coverage they are planning.
“We want the TV coverage to be balanced and use the apparent conflict with their policies to highlight the important equality issues before matches.”
The FA meanwhile, should “show their solidarity with the LGBT+ community” by following its own equalities policies, Chloe added.
Speaking to The Northern Echo, Chloe said she cannot even begin to comprehend being born in a country that sees her existence as illegal.
“I’m very lucky to have been born, purely by chance, into a country where I’m not going to be sentenced to jail and it’s not illegal to be who I am,” she told the regional newspaper.
“It’s just to think, if I’d have been born in a different country, my fate would have been completely different.”
“All it would take is Boris Johnson coming out and saying that he disagrees with Qatar’s policies,” she added, “because that would show he is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
“When you’re silent against an issue you’re choosing a side because you’re just sitting back and letting them do it.”
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has been at pains to stress that Qatar has made “strong progress” in ensuring that queer football fans will be safe at the 2022 World Cup.
However, this has done little to quell criticism. Internationally, Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who last year became the only active out gay player in top-flight men’s football, said he would be “scared” to travel to Qatar.