As Qatar prepared to host the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in November, the middle east country has been accused of violating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and subjecting them to ill-treatment in detention.
In a report released by Human Rights Watch(HRW), the organization said it has documented dozens of cases where LGBTI people were subjected to different forms of abuses by Qatar’s Security officers who detained them in an underground prison in Al Dafneh, Doha and subject them to verbal and physical abuses.
HRW said that the Qatari security forces should end arrests for adult, consensual sexual relations, including same-sex conduct, or those based on gender expression, and immediately release LGBT people who remain arbitrarily detained. The Qatari government should put an end to security force ill-treatment against LGBT people, including by halting any government-sponsored programs aimed at conversion practices. Countries sending external security forces to Qatar during the World Cup should ensure they comply with international human rights law and refrain from adding to Qatari security forces’ abuses.
“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked, Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching,” said Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at HRW
“They [Preventive Security] are a mafia. They detained me twice, once for two months in a solitary cell underground, and once for six weeks. They beat me every day and shaved my hair. They also made me take off my shirt and took a picture of my breasts. I suffered from depression because of my detention. I still have nightmares to this day, and I’m terrified of being in public.” A Qatari transgender woman, arrested by Preventive Security in public in Doha, told HRW
A Qatari gay man who has experienced government repression, including arbitrary arrest, said that security forces surveilled and arrested him based on his online activity.
All those interviewed provided strikingly similar accounts. The repressive climate around free expression in Qatar, including around the rights of LGBT people, has made many people who may have experienced mistreatment afraid to be interviewed because of the risk of retaliation, HRW said.
The FIFA decision to award Qatar with hosting the 2022 World Cup has been mired in controversy, starting with US Department of Justice allegations that FIFA officials were bribed to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup. FIFA made the decision despite the country’s poor human rights record and its massive infrastructure deficit, knowing it would rest on vulnerable migrant workers to build.
In 2020, Qatar assured prospective visitors that it would welcome LGBT visitors and that fans would be free to fly the rainbow flag at the World Cup football games. Human rights groups believed that the suggestions by officials that Qatar would make an exception to its abusive laws and practices for outsiders are implicit reminders that Qatari authorities do not believe that its LGBT citizens and residents deserve basic rights.
FIFA, the football governing body, which awarded Qatar the World Cup in 2010, adopted in 2016 the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which require it to “avoid infringing on the human rights of others and address adverse human rights impacts.” It requires FIFA to take adequate measures for the “prevention, mitigation, and remediation” of human rights impacts.