Qatar has committed human rights abuses against LGBTQ+ individuals ahead of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in November, a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges.
Forces from the country’s Preventative Security Department “have arbitrarily arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and subjected them to ill-treatment in detention,” the rights organization has reported, adding that it had documented six known cases “of severe and repeated beatings” and “five cases of sexual harassment in police custody” from 2019 through 2022.
Information regarding the abuse came from six individuals interviewed by HRW, including a bisexual woman, a gay man, and four transgender women. All interviewed reported being beaten by police, with one claiming to have lost consciousness as a result of the abuse. Multiple transgender women reported being targeted for their gender expression, and being subjected to harassment while in custody.
HRW reports that all victims were detained “without charge,” in some cases for months at a time, and that no record of their arrests remain. They were all reportedly made to sign morality pledges in which they promised to “cease immoral activity,” the agency reports.
A Qatari government official has alleged that the report “contains information that is categorically and unequivocally false,” Reuters reports, noting that the official did not specifically state which information in the report is false.
The government of Qatar had promised that it would welcome LGBTQ+ visitors ahead of the World Cup, which is scheduled for November. Those assurances came after rights organizations criticized FIFA’s decision to let Qatar host the event, alleging the country’s ongoing human rights abuses.
“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said HRW researcher Rasha Younes, in a statement released with the report. “Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people.
“The world is watching,” she added.