'Demonstrating LGBTQ views in a society where it is accepted': Qatari official ahead of the FIFA World Cup

‘Demonstrating LGBTQ views in a society where it is accepted’: Qatari official ahead of the FIFA World Cup

The rainbow flags could be taken by World Cup fans in Qatar to protect them from attacks for promoting gay rights, a senior leader who oversees tournament safety told The Associated Press.

Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari insisted LGBTQ couples would be welcomed and accepted in Qatar for the November 21-December 18 FIFA show, despite same-sex relationships remain criminalized in the conservative Gulf nation.

But Al Ansari is against the open promotion of LGBTQ freedoms, as symbolized by the rainbow flag that the organizers of FIFA and the World Cup had previously claimed would be welcome at Qatar’s eight stadiums.

“If he (a fan) raised the rainbow flag and took it from him, it’s not because I really want to take it, really, to really insult him, but to protect him,” Al Ansari told the AP. “Because if it’s not me, someone else around him might attack (him)… I can’t guarantee the behavior of all the people. And he’ll tell him, ‘Please, there’s no need to really raise that flag at this point.’ “

Al Ansari is director of the Department for International Cooperation and chairman of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee at the Ministry of the Interior where he discussed planning the World Cup for an hour with the AP.

“You want to demonstrate your opinion on the (LGBTQ) situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted,” he said. “We realize this man took the ticket, he comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a politician (act) or something that’s on his mind.

“Watch the game. That is fine. But don’t really go in and insult the whole society for it. “

The potential confiscation from supporters was condemned as “deeply troubling” by fans and anti-discrimination activists.

“Often, so-called ‘protections’ are actually smoke screens to cover human rights violations,” said Julia Ehrt of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and Ronain Evain of Football Supporters Europe in a joint response. “FIFA and Qatar must address these concerns immediately and show the world that there is a possibility of organizing a safe and rights-respecting tournament for LGBTIQ fans.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said this week in Doha that “everyone will see that everyone is welcome here in Qatar, even if we talk about LGBTQ”.

Al Ansari said he wasn’t telling LBGTQ fans to stay away from Qatar or warning them to be prosecuted.

“Booking the room together, sleeping together – that’s something that doesn’t concern us,” he said. “We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s go no further, the individual personal things that could happen between these people … that’s actually the concept. “

“We cannot change the laws here. You cannot change your religion for 28 days of the World Cup ”.

When it was pointed out that fans and visiting teams might take offense at the comments, Al Ansari said he did not consider himself discriminatory.

“I’m risking … a minority view against a majority,” he said. “We have to be close to the problem before it erupts and gets out of control. … If someone attacks you, then I must be involved and it will be too late.

Joyce Cook, head of social responsibility and education at FIFA, told the AP in 2020 that “rainbow flags, shirts will all be welcome at the stadium, that’s a fact. They understand very well that is our position.” World Cup CEO Nasser Al-Khater also said that we will “respect” FIFA’s guidelines on the authorization of rainbow flags.

But Al Ansari’s comments on the confiscation of fans’ rainbow flags created confusion among activists, including Chris Paouros, a member of the England Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Committee and trustee of the anti-discrimination group, Kick It Out, who wanted a seat. safe and tournament inclusive.

“This inconsistency and continued lack of detail in terms of how this will be delivered beyond the ‘everyone is welcome’ rhetoric is troubling, to say the least,” Paouros said.

The FARE network, which controls anti-discrimination matches, has called for respect for the freedoms of fans at the World Cup.

“The idea that the flag, which is now a recognized universal symbol of diversity and equality, will be removed from people to protect them will not be considered acceptable and will be seen as a pretext,” said FARE Executive Director Piara Powar. “I have been to Qatar on numerous occasions and I do not expect the local Qatari people or visiting fans for the World Cup to be attacked for wearing the rainbow flag. The greatest danger comes from the actions of the state ”.

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