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LGBT activists protest at FIFA museum ahead of Qatar World Cup

LGBT protestors
The All Out group that organised the Zurich protest on Tuesday wants FIFA to pressure Qatar to decriminalise same-sex relations and protect the LGBT+ community Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann

A few dozen people have protested in front of the FIFA Museum in Zurich to press for the rights of the LGBT+ community ahead of the World Cup hosted by Gulf state Qatar.

Some football players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individuals and women, against whom rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate.

In an interview filmed in Doha and to be screened later on Tuesday, a Qatar World Cup ambassador told German television broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality, which is illegal in the conservative Muslim country, was “damage in the mind”.

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The All Out group that organised the Zurich protest on Tuesday said the demonstration aimed to “make sure FIFA and Qatar know the world is watching and that citizens around the world expect action”.

All Out wants FIFA to pressure Qatar to decriminalise same-sex relations and protect the LGBT+ community. It said FIFA had not publicly committed to concrete steps that would ensure the safety of LGBT+ football fans, gay players or the local LGBT+ community.

‘Safe and welcoming environment’

“FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBTIQ+ fans and allies to enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe environment, just as for everyone else,” a spokesperson for world football’s governing body responded to Reuters in an email.

FIFA’s position was that discrimination of any kind on account of sexual orientation was strictly prohibited, the spokesperson said. “Qatar as a host country is fully committed to ensuring that everyone will be able to enjoy the tournament in a safe and welcoming environment, including members of the LGBTIQ+ community.”

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Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, but the small nation has come under intense pressure for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive social laws.

The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the tournament, which takes place from November 20 to December 18. Switzerland’s three group games are against Cameroon on November 24, Brazil on November 28 and Serbia on December 2.

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