Frightening FIFA story hour: World Cup hotels in Qatar reject homosexuals

Journalists posing as a gay couple are not allowed to book rooms at official FIFA World Cup hotels in Qatar.

Frightening FIFA story hour: World Cup hotels in Qatar reject homosexuals

Journalists posing as a gay couple are not allowed to book rooms at official FIFA World Cup hotels in Qatar. World Association President Infantino makes a safe world, but the danger for LGBTQI people in Qatar is real. That doesn't just have to change for the World Cup.

"It will simply be the best World Cup in history, the greatest show in the world," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the 72nd FIFA Congress in early March (21 November to 18 December) in Qatar. And this show is for everyone: "Everyone will see that everyone is welcome here in Qatar, even if we talk about LGBTQI". LGBTQI is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer and Intersex. They are descriptions of sexual orientations and forms of identity.

Well, the 52-year-old, who repeatedly brushes aside criticism of the human rights situation in the host country, has to reconsider his statements. Because research by the Norwegian broadcaster NRK together with the Danish broadcaster DR and SVT from Sweden show: The finals are not for everyone. World Cup hotels advertised as accommodation on the official FIFA website turned away gay guests.

The three TV stations conducted an experiment in which two journalists posed as a newly married 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 said openly that they would not want to accommodate 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 they were gay.

According to the research, the "Torch Doha", the "Magnum Hotel

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can be punished with up to seven years in prison. Islamic law even allows flogging and the death penalty. According to human rights organizations, the latter has probably not yet been carried out in this context. In the 2021/22 annual report, Amnesty International again warned that ahead of the World Cup, "the authorities will restrict the right to freedom of expression even more". Women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people were 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 exchange with each other, for example via social media, should be suppressed.

When the journalists confronted FIFA with their research, they didn't answer the questions, instead sending one of their typical PR replies. Qatar is aware of its responsibility to meet FIFA's expectations and requirements in terms of 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 TV broadcaster quoted the world governing body's letter as saying.

But the research of the three TV stations joins a ranks of resistance and restrictions for queer people in relation to the World Cup in Qatar. In early April, a Qatari security officer warned against showing rainbow flags - the symbol of sexual and gender diversity - at the World Cup because he believed that fans were likely to be attacked. Anyone who wants to demonstrate their views on the LGBTQI situation should do so in a society "where that is accepted," said Major General Abdulasis Abdullah Al Ansari.

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

In addition, a document from the Qatar World Cup organizing committee available to Sportschau testifies that World Cup ambassadors and selected journalists are used to tell "stories" in public that show that Qatar is ready to welcome queers as well. However, the research by the three TV stations in combination with the other campaigns also seems as if an attempt is being made to scare LGBTQI people in the run-up to the World Cup and to put obstacles in their way so that they do not travel to the tournament. And then the organizers could then boast: Look, there were no problems with the topic at the World Cup.

The dangers facing LGBTQI people in Qatar are real. Not only human rights organizations and those affected are aware of this. Only FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, who doesn't want to know anything about it. The most important thing is that it is not just about changes in Qatar in terms of non-discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity for World Cup tourists who visit the country for a few days. These rights are needed for all people in Qatar and the region. And all the time.


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