Scary FIFA history lesson: World Cup hotels in Qatar reject homosexuals

Scary FIFA history lesson
World Cup hotels in Qatar reject homosexuals

By David Needy

Journalists pretending to be a gay couple are not allowed to book rooms at official FIFA World Cup hotels in Qatar. World President President Infantino creates a perfect world, but the danger to LGBTQI + people in Qatar is real. It should not just change for the World Cup.

“It will simply be the best World Cup in history, the biggest show in the world,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the 72nd FIFA Congress in early March (November 21 to December 18) in Qatar. And this show is for everyone: “Everyone wants to see everyone welcome here in Qatar, even if we’re talking about LGBTQI +”. LGBTQI + is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer and Intersex. These are descriptions of sexual orientations and forms of identity.

Well, the 52-year-old, who repeatedly ignores criticism of the human rights situation in the host country, needs to reconsider his statements. For research from the Norwegian TV station NRK together with the Danish TV station DR and SVT from Sweden shows: The finals are not for everyone. World Cup hotels advertised as accommodation on the official FIFA website rejected gay guests.

The three TV stations conducted an experiment in which two journalists posed as a newlywed gay couple from Sweden and asked for a room at the World Cup hotels. 59 of the 69 hotels recommended by FIFA responded accordingly: Three openly stated that they would not accept the gay couple and immediately rejected the request. 20 of the hotels that accepted the alleged couple shared clear reservations, saying guests would not be allowed to show that they were gay.

Do not “dress gay”

According to the investigation, Torch Doha, Magnum Hotel & Suites Westbay and Wyndham Grand Regencey all canceled because they were a gay couple. “Thank you for your question, but according to our hotel policy, we can not accommodate you,” was a reply. Another reason was that gay couples were simply not accepted. The hotels with reservations say that in the past there have been incidents where the police have taken Qataris out of the hotel who had homosexual relationships, or that “if you put on make-up and dress gay” you would be violating national policy. “Decently dressed” and without sexual activity, the couple is welcome.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can be punished with up to seven years in prison. Islamic law even allows whipping and the death penalty. According to human rights organizations, the latter has probably not yet been implemented in this context. In the 2021/22 annual report, Amnesty International again warned that ahead of the World Cup, “the authorities are even more restrictive of the right to freedom of expression”. Women as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people and intersex people also “continued to be discriminated against both by law and in everyday life”. Members of the LGBTQI + community should also be systematically monitored and their exchanges with each other, for example via social media, should be suppressed.

When the journalists confronted FIFA with their research, they did not answer the questions, but instead sent one of their typical PR answers. Qatar is aware of its responsibility to meet FIFA’s expectations and requirements in relation to respect for human rights and gender equality. “FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be taken to ensure that LGBTQI fans and others can enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe manner,” the broadcaster quoted the world governing body as saying.

The dangers are real

But the research from the three TV stations adds to a number of resistance and restrictions for queer people in relation to the World Cup in Qatar. In early April, a security official from Qatar warned against displaying rainbow flags – the symbol of sexual and gender diversity – at the World Cup because he thought fans were likely to be attacked. Major General Abdulasi’s Abdullah Al Ansari said that anyone wishing to demonstrate their views on the LGBTQI + situation should do so in a society “where this is accepted”.

Qatar authorities confiscated rainbow-colored toys last December. The rationale at the time was that they violated Islamic values. Almost a month earlier, the Qatari TV station beIN Sports, which also broadcasts the World Cup games, was accused of inciting homophobia.

In addition, a document from Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee, available to Sportschau, testifies that World Cup ambassadors and selected journalists are used to tell “stories” in public, showing that Qatar is ready to welcome queers as well. However, the research of the three TV stations in combination with the other campaigns also seems as if they are trying to scare LGBTQI + people up to the World Cup and put obstacles in the way so that they do not travel. to the tournament. And then the organizers could then boast: See, there were no problems with the topic at the World Cup.

The dangers for LGBTQI + people in Qatar are real. Not only human rights organizations and those affected are aware of this. Only FIFA boss Gianni Infantino does not want to know anything about it. Most importantly, it is not just about changes in Qatar in terms of non-discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity for World Cup tourists visiting the country for a few days. These rights are necessary for all the people of Qatar and the region. And all the time.

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