Australian born LGBTIQ+ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was arrested in Qatar today outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha while staging a one-man protest against Qatar’s criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people – just 26 days before the start of the football World Cup.
This is the first ever public LGBTIQ+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state.
Mr Tatchell was holding a placard supporting Qatari LGBTIQ+ people who live under one of the most repressive regimes in the world that criminalises both male and female homosexuality, with sentences that can include three years jail and death by stoning. His placard read: “Qatar arrests, jails & subjects LGBTs to ‘conversion’.” He wore a t-shirt with the hashtag: #QatarAntiGay
The current whereabouts of Mr Tatchell are unknown.
Speaking from Qatar shortly before his protest, Peter Tatchell said:
“There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Qatar. It is a homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship.
“Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation. 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.
“I did this protest to shine a light on Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBTIQ+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris. I am supporting their brave battle against tyranny.
“LGBTIQ+ Qataris face police harassment, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing, arrest, three years jail and potentially the death penalty. Qatar has secret gay conversion centres where LGBTIQ+ people can be detained and subjected to abusive attempts to turn them straight.
“Women must get permission from a male guardian to marry, work in many government jobs and to study and travel abroad.
“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.”
Mr Tatchell added:
“Despite FIFA saying that discrimination will not be tolerated, if a Qatari footballer came out as gay, he would be more likely to be arrested and jailed than be selected for the national team. That’s discrimination and against FIFA’s rules.
“FIFA has failed to secure change in Qatar. There have been no legislative reforms on LGBTIQ+ 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,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell, aged 70, is Director of the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
A SHORT BIO ABOUT PETER TATCHELL
Peter Tatchell was born in Melbourne in 1952. In the 1960s, he was involved in campaigns for Indigenous Aboriginal rights and against the death penalty at the time of Ronald Ryan’s hanging in 1967.
He was prominent in the Vietnam Moratorium campaign, and against the draft and the South African surf life saving tour of Australia.
Peter has lived in London since 1971. When he took out British citizenship in 1989, he automatically lost his Australian citizenship under the old rules. But he still regards himself as Australian and plans to seek the restoration of his Australian citizenship in the near future.
Peter Tatchell has been campaigning for human rights for 55 years, since 1967. He is best known for his two attempts to arrest the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, in 1999 and again in 2001. On the opening day of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, he staged a protest outside the Kremlin over President Putin’s collusion with the kidnapping, torture and murder of LGBTIQ+ people in Chechnya. Earlier, in 1973, he staged the first LGBTIQ+ protest in a communist country, East Germany, which resulted in his arrest and interrogation by the secret police, the Stasi.