Australian gay soccer player Josh Cavallo has called out World Cup host Qatar on its anti-gay laws and urged sport leaders to consider a country’s LGBTIQ+ rights stance before awarding hosting rights of major events.
Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, from November 20 to December 18. The country criminalises homosexual activity with prison sentences and the death penalty in some circumstances.
But Nasser Al Khater, 2022 World Cup chief executive in Qatar, and others have sought to downplay the country’s anti-gay laws ahead of the World Cup.
Al Khater has said spectators would not have to worry about “persecution of any sort”, and described Qatar as a “tolerant country”.
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 slammed the comments as using references to “culture” as a cover to “deflect responsibility away from abusive state systems”.
Many queer soccer fans have also declared they plan to boycott the event over Qatar’s human rights record.
Josh Cavallo has also previously said he would be “scared” to play in the country because of the anti-gay laws.
Josh Cavallo tells FIFA and Qatar ‘the world is watching’
Speaking at the Attitude Awards in London this week, Josh Cavallo addressed both Qatar and FIFA on the issue.
The South Australian athlete said the support and love he’s received since coming out as gay in 2021 has been “beyond”.
“But the work is still needs to be done is staggering,” he warned.
“For many, standing up and living honestly puts them in harm’s way. It’s dangerous, even deadly.
“We’re far from true equality when 69 countries still criminalize LGBTQ people [and] brush these issues off, not realizing their son or daughter or teammate might be LGBTQ. The athletes they cheer for [may be] bisexual or non-binary.
“I vow to stand up for the LGBTQ athletes and the fans at the World Cup in Qatar who can’t live openly or authentically.
“Qatar, FIFA, the world is watching. Do you see us?
“I urge sport leaders to consider our rights our safety while choosing host countries for World Cups and other competitions. We must do better.”
In 2018, the World Cup was held in Russia, where the country’s homophobic “gay propaganda” law has been used to oppress the country’s queer communities since 2013.
Gay soccer fan leader calls out Qatar ambassador
Last month, Qatar’s ambassador to Germany was also publicly called out at a human rights conference in Frankfurt, hosted by the German Football Association.
Fan representative Dario Minden addressed ambassador Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, calling for the laws to be repealed.
“I’m a man and I love men. I do — please don’t be shocked — have sex with other men. This is normal,” Minden said in English.
“So, please get used to it, or stay out of football. Because the most important rule in football is, football is for everyone.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, if you’re gay. It’s for everyone. For the boys. For the girls. And for everyone in between.
“So, abolish the death penalty. Abolish all of the penalties regarding sexual and gender identity.”
A representative of Germany's association of fan and ultra groups went on stage to speak to the DFB's conference on human rights in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.
Here's his personal speech on LGBT rights in the country, addressed directly at Qatar's ambassador to Germany. pic.twitter.com/ODYZrsYWyq
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) September 19, 2022
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