Several organizations have recommended against traveling to the FIFA World Cup because Qatari authorities failed to assure traveling LGBTQ+ supporters that they will be safe there. They asked football enthusiasts to watch FIFA World Cup 2022 at home online.
The Supreme Committee, the organization in charge of planning the World Cup, was asked by The Guardian several straight questions regarding LGBTQ+ supporters and their worries this week, but no specific responses were provided.
A primary response read: “Everyone will be welcome to Qatar in 2022, regardless of race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality. We are a relatively conservative society – for example, public displays of affection are not a part of our culture. We believe in mutual respect and so while everyone is welcome, what we expect in return is for everyone to respect our culture and traditions.”
LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have expressed growing concerns about safety as talks with coordinators have stagnated. The LGBTIQ Human Rights Sports Coalition has been in contact with Qatari officials for almost two years. Still, according to Anne Lieberman, a founding member of the group, no definitive safety guarantees have been provided.
Lieberman said. “This quite clearly suggests to us that LGBTIQ people, whatever their role, will not be protected from the state and its repressive anti-LGBTIQ legislation, or from other potential risks to their safety,”
Groups are urging a boycott of the tournament because of the Qatari government’s inability to adequately address issues or even use the word LGBTQ+. Even though no details were provided, FIFA told the Guardian that they considered it had gotten enough assurances from Qatari officials guaranteeing supporter safety and law enforcement.
FIFA’s Joyce Cook, then the organization’s chief social responsibility and educational director and currently a senior advisor, claimed in a statement to the Human Rights Sports Coalition that the organization had “thoroughly assessed the named legal clauses and their implementation in practice, including in particular as they pertain to LGBTIQ+ persons.”
She said, “Based on our engagement with the relevant Qatari authorities, and following existing government guarantees, and the event-specific legislation, as well as our experience of hosting other events in Qatar, FIFA is confident that persons identifying as LGBTIQ+ will not face any repercussions based on the above-mentioned legal provisions.”
Lieberman said, “FIFA has had a responsibility from the beginning to ensure the proper human rights due diligence was done, and a positive legacy for all is left, and now we are less than 100 days out still fighting for basic safety assurances.”
LGBTQ+ groups claim that a lack of clarity and poor public relations have only fueled fears. Whether supporters can fly rainbow flags in Doha without facing the consequences is still debatable.