Queer Qataris arrested and beaten by police weeks before World Cup

qatar leader Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Emir and world cup countdown clock
Images: Ahmad Thamer Al Kuwari/Flickr, G Travels/Flickr

LGBT people in World Cup host city Qatar have been arbitrarily arrested and beaten in police custody as recently as September, according to Human Rights Watch.

Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, from November 20 to December 18. But homosexuality is illegal in the conservative Muslim country, with same-sex relations punished with up to seven years in prison.

FIFA awarding Qatar the major soccer tournament has thrown the country’s anti-gay laws into the spotlight.

Players including Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo, who is gay, and LGBTIQ+ spectator groups are concerned for their safety while in the country.

A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reveals distressing allegations of police abuse against queer people.

The rights group spoke to four trans women, one bisexual woman, and one gay man who recounted verbal and physical abuse in an underground prison in capital city Doha.

All were detained without charge, with one spending two months in solitary confinement, they told Human Rights Watch.

One woman told HRW she was beaten until she lost consciousness.

All six people said police forced them to sign pledges promising to “cease immoral activity.”

“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” the group’s LGBT rights researcher Rasha Younes said.

“Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching.”

Trans Qataris arrested and beaten

A transgender Qatari woman recounted to HRW police arresting her and accusing her of “imitating women”.

She says the officers beat her until her lips and nose were bleeding, and also kicked her in the stomach.

“You gays are immoral, so we will be the same to you,” one officer told her, the woman said.

“I was detained for three weeks without charge, and officers repeatedly sexually harassed me.

“Part of the release requirement was attending sessions with a psychologist who ‘would make me a man again.’”

Another trans woman says police forced her to remove her makeup and shave her hair.

All of the detainees said the authorities forced them to unlock their phones and took screenshots of private pictures and messages, as well as contact information of other LGBT people.

Qatar and World Cup officials downplay anti-gay laws

A Qatari official told Reuters in a statement that HRW’s accounts “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false,” without elaborating. The official denied Qatar “licenses or operates ‘conversion centres'”.

Nasser Al Khater, 2022 World Cup chief executive in Qatar, and others have repeatedly sought to downplay the country’s anti-gay laws ahead of the World Cup.

Al Khater has said arriving spectators would not have to worry about “persecution of any sort”, and described Qatar as a “tolerant country”.

When Qatar was named host, the country told spectators it would welcome LGBTIQ+ fans and allow them to fly rainbow flags at matches.

But speaking earlier this year, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said Qatar “welcomes everybody, but we also expect and want people to respect our culture.”

Human Rights Watch has said the comments show Qatari authorities don’t believe the country’s own LGBT citizens and residents deserve basic rights.

The group is also demanding the country repeal laws criminalising homosexuality and stop arrests on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Only weeks ahead of the World Cup, LGBT people are raising the alarm on the abuses they have endured by security forces,” Younes said.

“The Qatari government should call an immediate halt to this abuse.

“FIFA should push the Qatari government to ensure long-term reform that protects LGBT people from discrimination and violence.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. 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. Peter Turner
    25 October 2022

    The arrest and beating of LGBTQI+ people has NOTHING to do with culture!
    We have all seen the immoral behaviour of Qatari, Iranian and Saudi men when they are in the West. They are great consumers of male and female prostitution and regularly attend Brothels in London and other Western Cities.
    NO International Sporting Competition should EVER be awarded to Countries where we, or anyone else, are treated in this way!
    They are nothing but disgusting HYPOCRITES.

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