Qatar arrests and abuses gay, bi and trans people, unlawfully violating their human rights, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.
The report comes weeks before the Muslim country hosts the World Cup. As homosexuality is a crime in Qatar — amongst other human-rights issues — many people have expressed concern for LGBT fans who might attend the tournament.
From HRW’s detailing of the report:
Human Rights Watch documented six cases of severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022. Security forces arrested people in public places based solely on their gender expression and unlawfully searched their phones. As a requirement for their release, security forces mandated that transgender women detainees attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored “behavioral healthcare” center.
The report reflects the experiences shared with Outsports by Dr. Nasser Mohammed, a gay man who grew up in Qatar and who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been sounding the alarm about Qatar hosing the World Cup.
“Some of my friends have told me stories about online chat rooms and how undercover cops are arresting men trying to meet other men in a romantic setting,” he wrote in an op-ed detailing his fears of being gay in Qatar. “I also heard about lashing and prison sentences.”
While some areas and cultures of the Middle East have taken more-accepting approaches to gay, bi and trans people, Qatar is not one of them. Penalties for gay sex carry a possible prison term of up to seven years; Muslims can be put to death.
The Qatari government has publicly expressed assurances of safety for LGBT fans during the World Cup. Yet repeatedly they couch it with key clauses about public displays of affection. If a gay couple at the World Cup kissed in the street or in other ways expressed affection, they would be subject to arrest.
Some World Cup captains say they’ll wear One Love armbands during the matches in Qatar to express support for love. The armbands, however, don’t use the traditional Pride rainbow and are quite generic.
The World Cup takes place Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.