The Football Association has sought, and is believed to have assurances, that gay and transgender couples who hold hands in Qatar during the World Cup will not face prosecution.
The Football Association has also been told that supporters flying rainbow flags will not be arrested – as long as supporters do not “respect” local culture and mores by wrapping them on mosques.
Qatar’s laws, which criminalize same-sex relations, have sparked great concern among LGBTQ fans who fear for their safety at this winter’s finals.
Although those laws will remain in place during the tournament, the FA’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham, said he was encouraged by talks with the Qataris – as well as the introduction of an “enabling law” for the World Cup, under which minor offenses will not be prosecuted.
On the day it was announced that England captain, Harry Kane, would wear an anti-discrimination armband in Qatar as part of the FA’s plans to highlight human rights, Bullingham was asked what would happen if any gay England fans were arrested because of their detention. Hands into the final tournament.
“We’ve been asking these questions to the Qatari authorities for the past six months,” Bullingham replied. “But the laws you’re referring to are effectively suspended for a while before the World Cup, so the actions you’re referring to are not illegal.”
Bullingham also appeared to broadly praise the Qatari authorities for listening to the FA’s concerns about LGBT issues, saying: “They sure gave us the right answers for anything we talked about, even ‘our rainbow flags allowed’?
“Yes, sure, as long as someone doesn’t go and wear them outside the mosque – that was one of the examples we were given – and they were disrespectful in that way. They were completely made to be very tolerant and behave in the right way.”
Despite Bullingham’s upbeat tone, it’s still not entirely clear where the “minor offense” bar will be placed – whether it’s kissing in public or even tangling. Sources close to the Qatari authorities continue to stress that fans will still have to respect the local culture, as public displays of emotion are frowned upon, and have been vague in confirming where the line will be drawn.
Bullingham also admitted that he met the supporter group Three Lions Pride, which advocates for LGBT+ fans in England, and some are still wary about traveling to Qatar.
“We understand their concerns,” Bullingham said. “We met them and realized that a few of them weren’t going out.
“The message we got from Qatar in general is that everyone is welcome and these communities are totally welcome. What they were a little disappointed with was that they asked several follow-up questions and got no answers.
“I think very few of them feel they are running out of time in terms of getting the information they need to know they are safe on Earth,” he said. “We’ve asked the question in a lot of meetings with security teams on the ground and they’re all giving the right answers, but there’s definitely more information needed.”
The Football Association and World Cup organizers are also calling for compensation to be paid to families of migrant workers who lost their lives or were injured on construction projects.
Less than two months before the tournament kicks off, the human rights issue in Qatar remains a constant concern. The Guardian has shed light on how workers working on World Cup-related projects are paid a base wage of 1,000 riyals (£225) a month, the equivalent of £1 an hour.
Amnesty International also called on FIFA to allocate at least $440 million to hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Qatar who suffered human rights abuses during preparations for the World Cup – the same prize money to be distributed in the competition. .