CAPE TOWN – A Qatar official revealed that rainbow flags might be confiscated during the highly-anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is only eight months away.
Since the news was announced, activists have expressed concerns over the tournament due to the country’s strict anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, writes the Gay Times.
"Qatar 2022 security official had told the Press Association news agency this week that rainbow flags could be confiscated from LGBTIQ+ fans at the tournament, suggesting this would protect them from being attacked by others,“ the report said.
Simmering tensions boiled to the surface at the FIFA congress recently when Norway's soccer chief Lise Klaveness hit out at the 2022 World Cup's Qatari hosts over the country's human rights record, a Reuters report revealed.
The Norwegian Football Federation president, who became the body's first female leader in its 120-year history when elected this month, said the World Cup had been awarded by FIFA "in unacceptable ways with unacceptable consequences".
"Human rights, equality, democracy, the core interests of football, were not in the starting 11 until many years later," she said of the 2010 awarding. "There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers.
"No room for leaders that cannot host the women´s game. No room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of LGBTQ+ people coming to this theatre of dreams," writes Reuters.
Furthermore, the Guardian reported that measures to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar remain inadequate with fewer than eight months to go to the World Cup, groups supporting the community have said.
Meanwhile, in November 2021, discrete members of the community told Human Rights Watch that the Qatari government surveils and arrests LGBTQ+ people based on their online activity.
Authorities also censor traditional media related to sexual orientation and gender identity, including people who show support for LGBTQ+ individuals. They have effectively excluded LGBTQ+ content from the public sphere, writes Human Rights Watch.
Homosexual activity in Qatar is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail.