A gay man who identified himself only as “Ali” told the British newspaper I that a tryst in Qatar, scheduled to host the FIFA World Cup this month, ended with policemen gang-raping and eventually deporting him.
Ali, a Filipino who had traveled to Qatar for work, said he had made plans to meet a Turkish man who also claimed to be gay at a hotel and found six police officers in the room. Talking to you Ihe acknowledged that identifying as LGBT or any activity related to being gay is illegal in the country, but questioned why the police felt the need to rape and torture him before his arrest.
Both FIFA and Qatar’s government are facing a wave of global condemnation for allowing the small authoritarian Islamist regime to host the tournament, one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. The controversy began as soon as FIFA announced that Qatar would host, as the desert nation’s weather is so dry and hot that asking athletes to play during the summer months when the World Cup is usually held would pose a serious risk to the health. Qatari officials and FIFA responded to those concerns by moving the tournament to November – temperatures in Doha, the nation’s capital, are expected to hover in the high 80s and low 90s Fahrenheit this week. The tournament is scheduled to begin on November 20.
Qatar also faced an outcry from human rights activists over the abuse of foreign workers used to build stadiums and other facilities for the tournament. Under the nation head System, employers control almost every aspect of a foreign worker’s life and often use this power to force them to work expensive hours and not pay. Qatar has responded to criticism of what many activists describe as a system of slavery by enacting mass arrests of protesting workers and deporting those who do not comply or try to draw attention to the issue.
Officials in Qatar have stepped up complaints in the past month that the nation has faced “unfair” condemnation for its appalling human rights record and are signaling to global soccer fans that they will not be exempt from the abuses locals have become accustomed to if they attend the World Cup. . FIFA insisted, ignoring human rights activists, that the Qatar World Cup would be “a celebration of diversity” and in June, which is considered LGBT pride month, claimed the event would be open to all “regardless of race, ethnicity , religion, age, disability, gender characteristics, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression”.
The I report specifically focused on abuses against LGBT people in the country, both Qataris and foreigners. Qatar legally prohibits homosexuality and all extramarital sexual activity, as well as severely suppressing women under saria legal structure.
Ali’s story showed that the crackdown on suspected homosexuals went far beyond fines or prison terms for those who violated public behavior rules in routine entrapment operations designed to humiliate and torture LGBT people.
Ali said he decided to use a gay dating app while in Qatar and a man identified as a Turkish national messaged him and suggested they meet. He offered Ali 300 Qatari riyals, or about $82, if Ali agreed to wear a dress in his hotel room.
“When I saw the hotel, I went inside. It was the tenth floor. … I opened the door and went inside. There are six people,” he said, all police officers.
“They grab me and throw me on the bed. They started rushing me. … All of them except the Turks [man] – watch until they finish. He was laughing at me,” Ali recalls. “When they finished, they opened my bag and checked all my things, looking for evidence, saying, ‘She’s a prostitute, he’s gay.’ So they had evidence.”
Qatari officials then swiftly deported Ali.
Dr. Nasser Mohamed, an LGBT rights advocate I described as the world’s only “publicly emissary gay Qatari”, explained that the men who gang-raped Ali were likely members of Qatar’s “Department of Preventive Security”, a non-political agency that operates as an “independent mafia that goes [around] they arrest people.”
“They go undercover, they pull people out of public places, just on the suspicion that they’re gay,” he explained, often targeting gender-nonconforming people, such as men who have long hair or wear makeup.
FIFA responded to the report with a statement to I similar to the pride month statement, insisting Qatari officials knew they could not treat World Cup spectators with the same brutality they treat migrant workers or their own people.
“Qatar as a host country is fully aware of its responsibility to uphold FIFA’s expectations and requirements for human rights, equality and non-discrimination,” the statement said.
In October, Qatar’s government released a long list of rules for World Cup spectators that appeared to suggest FIFA’s promise of leniency to soccer fans would not be kept. Among Doha’s demands on World Cup tourists is that they all download mobile phone interception software to allow the government to monitor all their data. Data experts responded to this announcement by suggesting that anyone traveling to the World Cup should simply not carry a cell phone.
FIFA has done little to respond to years of reports of horrific and deadly abuse of foreign workers. Qatar has faced years of protests from workers who say employers simply refuse to pay their wages and the government offers them little recourse as foreign nationals. In August, Qatar rounded up 60 foreign workers protesting their wages and arrested them for allegedly “violating public security laws” by peacefully protesting. An estimated 30,000 foreign workers were used to build World Cup facilities, often toiling in oppressive desert heat for inhumane hours and little – and sometimes no – pay.
Investigations into abusive employers, years of reports have documented, rarely result in any meaningful action.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, complained last week of global outrage over Qatar’s human rights record in the run-up to the sporting event.
“Since we won the honor of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has endured an unprecedented campaign that no host country has ever faced,” Sheikh Tamim said, accusing human rights activists of “fabrications and double standards which was so ferocious has unfortunately led many people to question the real reasons and motivations behind the campaign.”
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the French newspaper Le Monde that the human rights concerns were “attacks … by a very small number of people” that were simply “unfortunate”.
“The reality is that people are looking forward to this celebration. Over 97 percent of tickets have been sold. Among the 10 countries that bought the most tickets, we find European countries such as France,” asserted Al Thani.
Al Thani appeared to blame bigotry for the outrage: “I think there are some people who don’t accept that a small country in the Middle East is hosting such a global event.”
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