Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell

Australian-born LGBTQIA+ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell arrived in Sydney after being arrested in Qatar following his one-man protest against Qatar’s criminalisation of LGBTQIA+ people in Doha on 25 October, 26 days before the start of the football World Cup.

This was the first-ever public LGBTQIA+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state.

Mr Tatchell was holding a placard supporting Qatari LGBTQIA+ people who live under one of the most repressive regimes in the world, which criminalises both male and female homosexuality with sentences that can include three years in jail, death by stoning and damaging attempted conversion ‘treatments’.

Peter’s placard read: “Qatar arrests, jails & subjects LGBTs to ‘conversion’.” He wore a t-shirt with the hashtag: #QatarAntiGay

Speaking from Qatar airport shortly before his flight from the Gulf state, Peter Tatchell said: “My arrest is evidence that Qatar is a police state where freedom of expression is not tolerated. Asking me to leave Qatar to stage a brief, peaceful protest for LGBTQIA+ rights is my own goal that confirms the dictatorial nature of the regime. It’s a sign of weakness that the rulers are afraid of even just one person calling out their human rights abuses.”

“Qatar cannot be allowed to sports wash 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 highlight Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBTQIA+ people, women, migrant workers and liberal Qataris. I am supporting their brave battle against tyranny.

“LGBTQIA+ Qataris face police harassment, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing, arrest, three years jail and potentially the death penalty. Qatar has secret gay conversion centres where LGBTQIA+ 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 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 a change in Qatar. There have been no legislative reforms on LGBTQIA+ or women’s rights. Improvements for migrant workers have been patchy a

Peter Tatchellt 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 the Director of the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.