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Lesbian head of Norwegian soccer says Qatar must suspend anti-LGBTQ laws during the World Cup

Lise Klaveness told FIFA that more must be done to protect human rights in Qatar. And She’s not backing down.

72nd FIFA Congress
With the Qatari flag behind her, Lise Klaveness demanded the country suspend anti-LGBTQ laws during the World Cup.
Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Lise Klaveness is the president of the Norwegian Football Federation, and she’s not going to shut up about the problems with Qatar hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup.

The out lesbian has decided to speak up about the LGBTQ rights issues in Qatar, questioning whether LGBTQ fans will be safe in the country. At the FIFA Congress in Doha last month, Klaveness said Qatar must suspend all anti-LGBTQ laws at least during the World Cup.

“They have started selling tickets but the bans are still in force,” she said. “We must ensure that these laws are suspended during the World Cup, and that it be made public.”

Qatar has some of the worst anti-LGBTQ laws in the world, with homosexuality punishable by imprisonment, and even death for Muslims. There are literally zero protections for LGBTQ people in Qatar and they have no access to marriage, adoption or legal change of gender.

The man who runs the organizing committee for the World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi, in response criticized Klaveness for not bringing her concerns to him privately (though this seems disputed) and claimed the World Cup will leave a lasting human rights legacy in Qatar. Other Qatari World Cup organizers have made similar claims that gays are totally welcome in Qatar despite the clear illegality of homosexuality.

Klaveness hasn’t stopped since the pushback. She shared an Instagram post about a meeting with Norway’s Minister of Culture Anette Trettenbergstuen in which they talked about the country stepping up to push human rights — and LGBTQ support in particular — at the World Cup in Qatar.

Klaveness competed on Norway’s women’s national team from 2002 to 2011.