Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will soon begin its FIFA World Cup 2022 on 20th November and Qatar is the hosting city. As much as people are elated with the beginning of the football world cup, women and LGBTQ fans have raised security concerns.
This is because Qatar has curtailed certain women’s rights and has strictly prohibited homosexuality.
What Are Women’s Concerns?
Despite Qatar reiterating that it is one of the safest countries in the world and there will be no discrimination, women fans are afraid of Qatar’s strict gender and sexual rights. Previously, there have been cases that women who reported sexual violence were lashed and couples were imprisoned for having sex before marriage.
As per the reports by The Guardian, in 2020, Australian women who were travelling on Qatar Airways flight were asked to get a gynecologic exam done without their consent and were removed from the flight in Doha. Later, they reported the issue and took legal action against the airlines and the country’s Civil Aviation Authority.
The lawyers representing the women appealed to the Qatari government, “With the World Cup less than a month away, female travellers are entitled to an assurance from Qatar that their human rights will be respected.”
The laws that could land one in jail, according to The Week are modest dressing, prohibition of sex in public for both; heterosexual and homosexual couples, having a live-in relationship, and sex outside marriage.
In case a woman visitor gets pregnant before marriage, the woman and her partner have to face imprisonment and deportation.
Numerous activists have said that Qatar’s laws are against women and thus, it makes it difficult for them to report cases of injustice to them and even face difficulty in getting health check-ups if they get pregnant outside of marriage.
Thus, women football fans who wish to attend the World Cup 2022 are insecure and concerned about their safety and feel that if physical or psychological injustices happen against them and if they report it, they’ll be the ones to be punished.
Issues Of The LGBTQ Fans
After learning about the laws in Qatar, LGBTQ football enthusiasts are skeptical of attending the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Activists have used this as an opportunity to raise concerns about the rights of the LGBTQ community and how unprotected their human rights are.
A lesbian woman Saskia Niño de Rivera was excited to attend FIFA World Cup 2022 and had planned to privately propose to her partner who is a sports agent for Mexico soccer players. However, after learning about the laws, she cancelled her plans.
She stated, “As a lesbian woman, it’s really hard for me to feel and think that we are going to a country where we don’t know what could happen and how we could be safe. It was a really hard decision.”
Rasha Younes, LGBTQ rights senior researcher in the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch stated, “Qatar should make an exception for outsiders who are implicit reminders that Qatari authorities do not believe that its LGBT residents deserve basic rights or exist.”
In the run-up to the World Cup, LGBTQ people have accused the Qatari security forces of mistreatment.
How Qatar Reacted?
Sepp Blatter, FIFA ex-president in an interview stated that letting Qatar host the FIFA World Cup was a bad decision. Calling it a mistake, he said, “It was based on a decision when I was president, and therefore I bear part of the responsibility for it.”
This comes after Qatar received several backlashes regarding their laws regarding the restrictive environment and gender rights.
The frustration of the Qatari government has surged as “their country’s achievements and progress was being overlooked and that the attacks raise questions about the motive behind them.”
HE @MBA_AlThani_ , in an interview with "The Frankfurter Allgemeine" : Qatar has always been open to constructive criticism of its foreign labor laws or its system.
We have opened our doors to NGO's and international human rights organizations.#MOFAQatar #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/byL7M3CPdX
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) November 7, 2022
The Qatari government told the Associated Press, “Qatar believes strongly in the power of sport to bring people together and build bridges of cultural understanding.”
“The World Cup can help change misconceptions, and we want fans to travel home with a better understanding of our country, culture and region. We believe this tournament… can show that people of different nationalities, religions and backgrounds, in fact, have more in common than they think,” the Qatari government said in the statement.
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