The largest group of LGBTQ+ supporters in the England national team has urged the Qatari authorities to provide clear reassurances that it will be safe for LGBTQ fans to visit the World Cup – and says they don’t know an England LGBTQ+ fan who is planning to attend the finals. , because they feel “insecure or uncertain”.
The call from the Three Lions Pride group comes a day after the Football Association said it had requested and received assurances that hand-holding gay fans and anyone waving a rainbow flag would not be prosecuted.
While welcoming the FA’s efforts, Three Lions Pride co-founder Joe White said Qatari authorities need to state publicly that gay fans will be fully protected “because in the end they are the ones who can enforce or suspend the laws”.
“We appreciate the lengthy work the FA has done behind the scenes on engaging with the Supreme Committee, but further assurances and details are required for us to best support any fans attending who may wish to show solidarity with the LGBT+ community,” White said.
“With regard to our membership, there are no LGBTI or LGBT people attending with the England World Cup Supporters Travel Club and members either did not apply for a ballot or were sent back due to feeling insecure and uncertain due to the lack of reassurances from FIFA and the Qatar Supreme Committee.”
When asked if he knew of any gay England fans traveling to Qatar, White said: “I’m not aware of any fan coming out for the tournament. I can’t guarantee that some LGBT+ fans won’t attend, although I highly doubt that from the conversations I’ve had. “.
Football has also been urged to do more by the LGB Alliance’s Kate Barker, who said some of her campaigns to support gay rights at the World Cup, such as national team captains wearing the OneLove badge, risk being seen as a “performer” when there is still a Lots of uncertainty about safety.
“The fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar means that it is extremely dangerous and dangerous to suggest that gay fans will certainly be safe without such assured guarantees,” she said.
A similar warning was sent by gay Liverpool fan Paul Aman, who visited Qatar for the Club World Championship in 2019. “The Qatari authorities have not provided anything that will push people towards a more inclusive World Cup,” he said. “In fact, the activities of the state since my visit have clearly indicated a very hard line that would see LGBT people in real danger if they showed up.”
Liz Ward, director of programs at Stonewall, said she was encouraged by the FA’s stance. “As we approach the 2022 Men’s World Cup, we must remember that Qatar is a country where LGBT people are persecuted for simply being themselves,” she said. “Unfortunately, this year’s tournament is not safe for everyone, which is why it is so important that we see Harry Kane, along with many other leaders, pledge to wear an anti-discrimination badge.”
German club Hoffenheim, ranked fourth in the Bundesliga, said it would not provide any coverage of the World Cup due to the difficulty of providing what it describes as “urgently needed analytical commentary that contextualizes sporting events” in the country.