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Qatar denies human rights campaigner was arrested after staging the first-ever LGBTQ+ protest

Emily Brown

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Qatar denies human rights campaigner was arrested after staging the first-ever LGBTQ+ protest

Qatar has denied a human rights campaigner has been arrested after staging the first public LGBTQ+ protest in any gulf state.

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This morning (25 October), Peter Tatchell shared a post on Twitter announcing that 'the first ever #LGBT+ protest [was] underway in Qatar.'

The post included an image of the protestor standing outside the The National Museum in the country's capital, Doha, and holding a sign which reads: "Qatar arrests, jails and subjects LGBTs to “conversion"."

Tatchell describes himself on Twitter as a campaigner for 'democracy, human rights, LGBTI+ liberation, social & global justice since 1965'.

He travelled to Qatar to draw attention to the criminalisation of the LGBTQ+ community ahead of the World Cup, which is set to kick off in the Middle-Eastern country next month, but reports soon emerged suggesting he had been arrested for his demonstrations.

A post on Twitter from writer Jayne Ozanne read: "BREAKING NEWS - @PeterTatchell has been arrested in #Qatar in the first ever public #LGBT protest in a Gulf State."

Tatchell's whereabouts are said to be unknown. Credit: @PeterTatchell/Twitter
Tatchell's whereabouts are said to be unknown. Credit: @PeterTatchell/Twitter

Ozanne's tweet claimed that Tatchell was 'seized by the Qatari security services while demonstrating in Doha ahead of the World Cup in three weeks', and that his whereabouts was consequently unknown.

This latter claim was reportedly confirmed by Tatchell's official spokesperson, Josh Wheeler, the Metro reports, however Tatchell's arrest has been denied by Qatar’s Government Communications Office.

Footage from the scene showed a uniformed officer approached Tatchell as he stood outside The National Museum today. Their exchange cannot be heard in the footage, but the officer can be seen folding the activist's sign before the video came to an end.

Tatchell's protest came after Fifa president Gianni Infantino insisted earlier this month that 'everyone will be welcome' at the Qatar World Cup, regardless of their background, gender, sexual orientation, religion or nationality.

After the claims of Tatchell's arrest came to light, Qatar’s Government Communications Office told LADbible that the rumours were 'completely false and without merit'.

"An individual standing in a traffic roundabout was cordially and professionally asked to move to the sidewalk, no arrests were made," the office continued.

Fifa's president has assured that everyone is welcome at the World Cup. Credit: Alan Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
Fifa's president has assured that everyone is welcome at the World Cup. Credit: Alan Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

In a statement to LADbible, a spokesperson for Tatchell said there 'can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Qatar' and described the country as 'a homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship'

"Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation," the spokesperson continued. "It is using the World Cup to enhance its international image. We must ensure that the tyrant regime in Doha does not score a PR victory."

The spokesperson said Tatchell's protest aimed to highlight 'Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBT+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris', stressing that he was 'supporting their brave battle against tyranny'.

"Over 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup. Many families are still waiting for compensation.

"Migrant workers complain of unpaid wages, overcrowded slum hostels and being refused permission to change jobs. FIFA has failed to secure change in Qatar. There have been no legislative reforms on LGBT+ or women’s rights. Improvements for migrant workers have been patchy at best. FIFA is letting Qatar evade many of its pledges when it was granted the right to hold the World Cup."

LADbible has reached out to Fifa for further comment.

This article has been updated to reflect comments from Qatar’s Government Communications Office.

Featured Image Credit: PeterTatchell/Twitter/ Scene Magazine

Topics: World Cup, Sport, LGBTQ, Crime

Emily Brown
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