Qatar authorities have seized children’s toys with rainbow-coloured patterns that resembled LGBTQI Pride flags after it labelled them as ‘un-Islamic’.
Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry stated in a tweet, “[we] carried out inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions across Qatar. ” The tweet was accompanied by a photo of rubber stress balls and other toys in rainbow colours.
“The campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children’s toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values.”
#MOCIQATAR carried out inspection campaigns on several retail outlets in different regions across #Qatar, the campaigns resulted in the seizure and release of several violations, including the confiscation of children's toys bearing slogans that go against Islamic values.
— وزارة التجارة والصناعة (@MOCIQatar) December 20, 2021
Qatar World Cup Spotlights Rights Record
Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and attention has focussed on the country’s record on human rights, especially, its stand on LGBTQI rights.
Qatar is ranked 143 out of 150 nations on the LGBTQ+ travel safety index. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and gay men can face up to three years of imprisonment along with fines. Muslim gay men can face the death penalty under Sharia law, although such a sentence has not been imposed.
“And that saddens me. At the end of the day, the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country, and to know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate – is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?”
Gay Footballers and Fans At Qatar World Cup
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Qatari officials responded by trying to allay fears of LGBTQI footballers and fans.
According to Doha News, Qatari official, Naseer Al Khater said, “They [gay people] will be coming to Qatar as fans of a football tournament. They can do whatever any other human being would do. What I’m saying is Qatar, from a public-display-of-affection factor, is conservative”.
“The notion that people don’t feel safe here is untrue. I’ve said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here. Everybody is welcome here and everybody will feel safe here. Qatar is a tolerant country. It’s a welcoming country. It’s a hospitable country.”
The English Football Association had in November stated that “Qatar [appeared] to soften its anti-LGBTQ+ stance for the tournament, saying rainbow flags would be permitted”.
Despite this, there are concerns for LGBTQI Qataris – who might display rainbow flags during the competition – after the World Cup has ended.
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