Monday, November 28, 2022

Fifa withdrew from an international conference on LGBT rights in Qatar shortly before the World Cup

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The head of the Football Association’s human rights department was due to speak at the LGBT sports summit but “didn’t want to speak to a large audience on the subject”.

Fifa withdrew from an international conference on LGBT rights in Qatar on the eve of the World Cup. I can reveal.

Andreas Graf, FIFA’s head of human rights and anti-discrimination, was scheduled to speak at the online event, titled LGBTIQ+ rights in Qatar: Men’s World Cup 2022 and beyond, but pulled out just before it started on Thursday.

organizers told I that Fifa “decided not to raise this issue in front of a broad audience”.

The Football Association faced criticism on Monday after England and other nations dropped plans to wear multicolored anti-discrimination armbands at their World Cup matches after being threatened with sporting sanctions.

The participation of Mr. Graf as a speaker at the event was made public in advance – until the day before. As a speaker, he could have answered questions from the Chair, who put questions to all participants and delegates.

During the summit, delegates were told a Fifa representative was due to speak, but “they canceled”.

The decision not to take part is likely to further fuel controversy over Fifa’s handling of the tournament, which was awarded to and exposed by a country that criminalizes homosexuality I and Human Rights Watch for subjecting LGBT people to state violence, rape, imprisonment, solitary confinement and deportation.

Last week’s half-day conference was organized by ILGA World – a leading international LGBT rights organization – and the LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Sports Coalition, a new group of sports and human rights groups.

Speakers at the online event included Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity; dr Nasser Mohamed, the world’s only gay Qatari; pride in football; FA Wales; and Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former Premier League player who came out as gay in 2014. He is an ambassador for diversity at the German Football Association, the DFB.

During the conference, Hiltzsperger, who has been crowned 52 times by Germany, criticized the Fifa president for his handling of concerns about hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “Gianni Infantino doesn’t care,” said the former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton player. “He lives on another planet.”

Infantino was criticized on Saturday for a rambling speech in which he appeared to compare Qatar’s treatment of LGBT people and migrant workers to his own experiences at school. “I was bullied because I had red hair,” he said.

The following day, FIFA told the seven nations that want to wear “OneLove” armbands in solidarity with LGBT rights that players could face a warning as a penalty. It prompted countries to back down from their commitment.

“I think we criticized Qatar a lot,” Hiltzsperger said, “but Fifa wasn’t mentioned enough because they’re responsible for it. Fifa is the cause of the problem. And when it comes to Fifa, there must be drastic changes after this World Cup. We have to focus on that.”

Same-sex relationships are punishable by three years’ imprisonment in Qatar, and if the person is Muslim, they are subject to Sharia law, which allows flogging. earlier this month, I revealed the Preventive Security Department – a branch of Qatari authorities linked to the police – preys on LGBT people on dating apps and uses fake profiles to lure victims into hotel rooms only to arrest them, too beating, imprisoning, raping and deporting.

A gay Qatari man still living in the Gulf state gave an anonymous live interview during the conference to describe the plight of LGBT people in Qatar.

“We must suppress any form of expression that does not conform to what is considered acceptable,” he said. “We feel it is detrimental to our mental well-being. We become a shell of our authentic selves.

“Many of us feel we have to make a choice [between being LGBT or Qatari] because we cannot reconcile these different parts of you… We live in an ongoing state of trauma.”

He revealed that LGBT Qataris not only live in fear of personal retaliation from the Qatari authorities, but also fear how such punishments would affect those around them: “We are afraid for our own networks of people… it affects your family. “

The conference also heard from Dr. Mohamed, who said, “I’m the only person who can show my face on camera because I have no intention of going back to Qatar… You can’t appear publicly and participate in society in Qatar and be safe.”

When asked what he thought the legacy of the World Cup would be, Dr. Mohamed: “The default setting is that a minority suffers the tyranny of the majority… Without actively fighting for LGBT rights, there is a tendency to annihilate and trample on them.

“Without active advocacy, the trend in Qatar will be the same… Fifa and the Qatari government will not advance anything. That’s why we have to organize ourselves. We have to go and hold the line and say, ‘No, we deserve better.'”

One of the few LGBT organizations in the Gulf region, Ahwaa, narrated I last week that Fifa put a “band-aid” over Qatar’s treatment of LGBT people and held stakeholder meetings that went nowhere. “They spoke to us, we’ve had so many different calls, and the last one I heard from [Fifa] was more than a year ago – and they never followed it up,” said Ahwaa’s co-founder.

When approaching I For comment, Fifa first asked which Fifa representative should speak at the conference, but did not respond further.

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