Read More Atheist Republic Qatari police put an end to a one-person protest staged by British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell outside of the Gulf state’s national museum ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be held on November 20.
Mr. Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, stood outside the National Museum of Qatar for just over half an hour wearing a T-Shirt with the words “#QatarAntiGay” inscribed. He was also seen holding a placard reading “Qatar arrests, jails, and subjects LGBTs to conversion” with the same hashtag below.
Captured video footage shows two uniformed members of the Qatari police approach Mr. Tatchell, aged 70. Three officials wearing plain clothes also arrived at the scene. The police folded the placard and took photos of Tatchell’s passport and other documents and those of his colleague, Simon Harris, who was filming the event. Reuters reported that Qatari officials shook hands with Tatchell, who remained on the sidewalk.
Mr. Tatchell said in a statement that the Qatari police detained him for 49 minutes and interrogated him, asking him where he was from and the organization helping him, where he was staying, and when he would leave Qatar.
I have been freed by #Qatar police after staging first LGBT+ protest in the homophobic Gulf state. @FIFAcom awarded the #WorldCup to Qatar where LGBTs can be jailed & executed. #QatarAntiGay More info: https://t.co/fEOHFIvbHw Please Retweet pic.twitter.com/u2YzU2B9kx
— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) October 25, 2022
After the police held him, Peter Tatchell was later released by the authorities and will head back to the UK. The Qatari government later released a statement denying that Peter Tatchell and his colleague were arrested and detained. They claimed he was “cordially and professionally asked to move to the sidewalk.”
NEW: Qatar’s Government Communications Office formally, on the record, deny Peter Tatchell was arrested. The statement does not deny the Reuters reporting that two uniformed police officers and three plain clothed arrived on the scene. pic.twitter.com/aYoWHcf2RA
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) October 25, 2022
The Peter Tatchell Foundation claimed the event as the first-ever LGBT protest in a Gulf state. Tatchell staged a similar protest in 2018 when he protested against the poor treatment of LGBT individuals in Russia before the World Cup, where Russian authorities arrested him.
Qatar’s human rights record has received negative attention as the World Cup draws near. Some football fans are boycotting the event, citing Qatar’s poor treatment of migrant workers and the LGBT community as the primary reason.
Homosexuality for both men and women is illegal in Qatar, and the conservative Muslim nation offers no legal protection for LGBT community members. It is often punishable with fines, imprisonment, and sometimes death.
As recently as last month, Human Rights Watch said that the Qatari government arrested many LGBT Qataris, which the Qatari government denied.
While the rights for migrant workers slightly improved after Qatar won the right to host the World Cup, the head of the Qatar World Cup, Nasser Al-Khater, said in an interview with Sky News that the Gulf state’s anti-LGBT laws would not change and urged football fans to respect the country’s culture.
He also said that while football fans can wave rainbow flags during the World Cup, it would be FIFA’s decision if they will allow players to wear “One Love” armbands.