Qatar police stop LGBTIQ+ rights protest by activist Peter Tatchell

Photo of Peter Tatchell protests in Qatar
Image: Peter Tatchell Foundation

Police in Qatar have stopped an LGBTIQ+ rights protest by British activist Peter Tatchell in capital city Doha, weeks out from the World Cup.

From November 20, the Gulf Arab state will host the FIFA World Cup. But Qatar’s hosting of the major sporting event has brought the country’s laws criminalising homosexuality into the spotlight.

Tatchell said he was “arrested and detained on the kerbside” after the one-man protest outside the country’s national museum in Doha.

He said he was protesting the country’s treatment of its LGBTIQ+ communities ahead of the World Cup.

The Australian-born British activist wore a T-shirt emblazoned with “#QatarAntiGay” and holding a placard that read “Qatar arrests and subjects LGBTs to conversion”.

Tatchell said he was later “surrounded and interrogated” by officers, who asked “where I was from, who was helping me, where I was staying and when I was leaving Qatar” over a period of 49 minutes.

Two uniformed police officers and three plain clothes officials arrived at the scene, Reuters reported.

They folded up his placard and took photos of Tatchell’s passport and other papers, and those of a man accompanying him.

Police left after shaking hands with Tatchell, according to Reuters.

Qatar government denies arresting Peter Tatchell

But the Qatari government hit back at Tatchell’s claims, saying he was neither arrested nor detained and was simply told “cordially and professionally” to move.

“Rumours on social media that a Peter Tatchell Foundation representative has been arrested [are] completely false and without merit,” a spokesperson said.

“An individual standing in a traffic roundabout was cordially and professionally asked to move to the sidewalk, no arrests were made.”

But Tatchell later told the BBC, “You can call it arrest or detention but we were not free to move.” He told the BBC he and his colleague “were not free to leave” nor “free to continue the protest”.

“Asking me to leave Qatar for staging a brief peaceful protest for LGBTQIA+ rights is an own goal that confirms the dictatorial nature of the regime,” Tatchell explained.

“It’s a sign of weakness that the rulers are afraid of even just one person calling out their human rights abuses.”

Tatchell’s protest to highlight treatment of LGBTIQ+ people

Tatchell said in a statement the goal of the protest was to highlight Qatar’s abuse of LGBTIQ+ people.

“I did this protest to shine a light on Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBTQIA+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris,” he said.

“Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation. It is using the World Cup to enhance its international image.

“We must ensure that the tyrant regime in Doha does not score a PR victory.”

Tatchell added that FIFA had failed to secure change in Qatar, such as law reforms on LGBTIQ+ or women’s rights.

“LGBTQIA+ Qataris face police harassment, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing, arrest, three years jail and potentially the death penalty,” he said.

“Qatar has secret gay conversion centres where LGBTQIA+ people [are] subjected to abusive attempts to turn them straight.”

Peter Tatchell added in Qatar, women “must get permission from a male guardian to marry, work in many government jobs and to study and travel abroad.”

“Over 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup. Many families are still waiting for compensation,” he added.

“Migrant workers complain of unpaid wages, overcrowded slum hostels and being refused permission to change jobs.”

A UK government spokesperson told the BBC it had “provided consular support to two British nationals following an incident in Doha”.

Same-sex activity is illegal in Qatar

Qatar outlaws same-sex activity between both queer men and queer women. It’s punishable with fines, up to seven years imprisonment, and in some cases, the death penalty.

LGBTIQ+ people have no legal protections in the Gulf state.

Earlier in the week, Human Rights Watch published interviews with half a dozen gay, bisexual and transgender Qataris.

They said security forces had arbitrarily arrested and physically abused and harassed them, as recently as last month.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

1 Comment

  1. Paul
    27 October 2022

    That takes guts wow, I must admit honestly. I would never ever visit these ME countries, even if someone payed me huge money! ➡️

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