August 12, 2022 – Tomorrow marks 100 days from the opening of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, a country that represses LGBTQI+ rights and punishes same-sex relations with up to 7 years in prison. Many, including our partners at Human Rights Watch, have raised concerns about the mega sporting event, which could put LGBTQI+ travelers to the competition at risk and fails to address the discrimination LGBTQI+ Qataris face on a daily basis.
In March, Athlete Ally and 15 other LGBTQI+ organizations issued eight action points to FIFA and other organizing bodies responsible for the event, including repealing laws that target LGBTQI+ people, providing safety guarantees, guaranteeing right of entry to Qatar, communicating a right to free expression and more.
“Each year, there are roughly 2,000 mega sporting events taking place globally,” said Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director at Athlete Ally. “These events are major competitions between teams, countries and athletes – generating incredible revenues and viewership. Holding an event like the World Cup comes with a powerful legacy; holding it in a place where LGBTQI+ rights are under attack is a direct affront to that legacy.
Sport governing bodies have a responsibility to do their due diligence around LGBTQI+ protections or lack thereof around their mega sporting events. They have a responsibility to clearly and consistently monitor how human rights are being respected and protected. They have a responsibility to use their power and platform to remediate harms when and where they occur. And finally, they have a responsibility to be transparent about how host cities or countries are or are not living up to the guiding principles of protecting, respecting and upholding human rights – especially LGBTQI+ rights.”
“The World Cup spotlight is exposing Qatar’s repression of the human rights of LGBTQI+ people, including punishing same-sex relations with up to seven years in prison,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “With 100 days until the tournament kicks off, there is still time for Qatar to change its laws and policies to respect LGBTQI+ rights, including for Qatari citizens, global fans and players.”