LGBTQ couples and activists have been warned not to display LGBTQ flags and lifestyle at the World Cup in Qatar to protect them from being attacked for promoting gay rights.
A senior leader in charge of security at the World Cup told the Associated Press that rainbow flags would be taken away from fans during the tournament.
Major General Abdulaziz Abdulla Al Ansari stated that LGBTQ couples will be welcome in Qatar between Nov 21 and Dec 18 despite same sex relationship remaining criminalised in the Gulf nation.
That notwithstanding, Al Ansari prohibits the overt promotion of same sex relationships through display LGBTQ flags and lifestyle. Earlier on FIFA and World Cup organizers had stated that the flags are welcome in Qatar’s eight stadia where the tournament will be happening.
“If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to, really, take it, to really insult him, but to protect him,” said Al Ansari.
Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack (him) … I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people. And I will tell him: ‘Please, no need to really raise that flag at this point’.”
He added: “You want to demonstrate your view about the (LGBTQ) situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted.
“We realise that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political (act) or something which is in his mind.
“Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.”
Al Ansari’s warning was condemned by anti-discrimination campaigners and soccer fans.
“Often, so-called ‘protections’ are in fact smokescreens to cover up human rights violations,” said Ronain Evain of Football Supporters Europe and Julia Ehrt of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in a joint response.
Julia Ehrt added: “FIFA and Qatar must address these concerns immediately, and show the world there is a chance of carrying out a rights-respecting and safe tournament for LGBTIQ fans.”
Al Ansari stated that he was not warning gays and lesbians fans to stay away from World Cup in Qatar or warning them of facing prosecution.
He said: “Reserve the room together, sleep together — this is something that’s not in our concern. We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people … this is actually the concept.
“Here we cannot change the laws. You cannot change the religion for 28 days of the World Cup.”
He added: “I am risking … a minority view against a majority.
“We have to be close to the problem before it erupts and gets out of control. … If somebody attacks you, then I have to get involved and it will be too late.”
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