Since Qatar was announced host of World Cup 2022 issues like media censorship, discrimination on the basis of sexual identity in addition to homophobia have been highlighted by human rights organization to pressure Qatar to comply with human rights laws on equality and protection of LGBT community.
Earlier last week, Qatar was accused of censoring an LGBT-related article in the New York Times by Dar Al Sharq, the publishing partner of the NYT. The move sparked condemnations and concerns among human rights organizations over Qatar’s handling of homophobia and media freedom during the coming World Cup 2022.
The article titled: “A Fire Killed 32 at a New Orleans Gay Bar. This Artist Didn’t Forget." In the Qatari censored version, it appeared as a large, blank and white box categorized as an “opinion” piece (which the original article was not).
The original writer of the article, Shannon Sims went to write another article in which the content of the censored article was explained.
“When I saw that my article was censored, I thought of the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar will host. Heightened journalistic attention will descend upon the country. What will that mean for readers?” Sims added.
In response, the Qatari government rejected accusations it was involved in censoring LGBT-related article confirming that blank pages mean it was self-censorshipped by the publisher. On their turn, Dar Al Sharq also responded that they are subject to the Qatari laws which lead them to avoid publishing anything might be considered illegal, immoral or contrary to the local rules.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Penal Code has an obvious position that criminalizes homosexuality. The law punishes same-sex relations with imprisonment between one to three years.
Human Rights Watch and many other organizations called FIFA to pressure Qatar into amending their laws, especially as the Gulf nation is expected to host millions of diverse visitors during the World Cup tournament.
The director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, Minky Worden, confirmed that this highlights Qatar’s homophobia. “The World Cup spotlight is exposing the Qatari government’s homophobia and its failure to counter this troubling climate of self-censorship.”
Human Rights Watch called Qatar to “play by the rules” and apply the minimum standards for human rights while hosting the World Cup.
In fact, Qatar’s position on homosexuality is compatible with the position of most Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and around the world, where sexual orientation is still a controversial issue and people might face punishment for it.
Coverage of LGBT news is also facing restrictions across the Gulf nations, where entire articles have been blacked out in newspapers in addition to the lack of any Arabic content on LGBT issues.
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