LGBT football fans from Wales have refused to visit Qatar to see their country compete in the World Cup for the first time in 64 years. Wales qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar after defeating Ukraine 1-0 on 5th June in Cardiff. As the spectators jumped with joy, some gay fans vowed to boycott the World Cup happening in Qatar because of the host country’s views on homosexuality.
An official LGBTQ supporters group Rainbow Wall told the media that many members believed it was not safe to travel to such a country where same-sex relationships are considered illegal and punishable with prison sentences.
LGBT Football Fans Fear for Their Safety
LGBT Football Fans said that they were happy with their team’s qualification, but they will be supporting them from home. They also said they could have joined them if it was any other country where gays felt safe and welcomed.
Two months ago, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani announced that the country would welcome the LGBT community but also demanded that they “respect our culture”. FIFA also assured the fans that it would take all necessary measures to allow everyone a safe and enjoyable experience.
FIFA and Qatar Face Scrutiny
FIFA and Qatar continue to face widespread criticism from many. The football association is getting the flak for hosting the tournament in Qatar, and the country faces backlash for its shady human rights record.
An American visitor was arrested In 1998 after getting caught in gay activity. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison with 90 lashes. Moreover, a Saudi Instagram star, King Luxy, was arrested in 2016 after authorities assumed he was gay by looking at his cross-dressing pictures.
However, journalists and rights activists working in Qatar believed that it would be different this time. They feel that LGBT football fans will not have to face severe problems because the country would also try to avoid controversy right now.
Rainbows Cannot Be Everywhere
World Cup organizers previously agreed that there would be LBGT promotion at the stadiums, same as every year. However, recently the country reported that gay symbolism such as the rainbow flag would be taken from the spectators before entering the stands. Director of Logistics at Qatar’s Interior Ministry, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, explained that taking the flag was not meant to insult LGBT football fans but to protect them. He said that flag bearers or those exhibiting their queer identity could face attacks from any hater in the audience. The country could not guarantee the behaviour of other people. Al Ansari asked to refrain from waving such flags over there. He also advised LBGT supporters to demonstrate their views in societies where they would be accepted.