August 15, 2022

The investigation took place in March

An investigation has discovered that several World Cup hotels in Qatar have refused to allow gay guests to stay and others have asked customers to change their behaviour during their visit.

While FIFA and the Qatari authorities have previously claimed that everyone is welcome at the tournament, a survey conducted by Swedish and Danish media has found that a number of hotels are stopping LGBTQ+ fans from booking rooms.

According to the report, journalists said they contacted 69 hotels in Qatar, which were listed on an official World Cup website and approved by FIFA, posing as a recently married gay couple looking to book a room.

As per NRK, SVT in Sweden and DR in Denmark, three hotels refused to accept the reservation, with one claiming that it would be against hotel policy to allow them to stay.

Additionally, another 20 hotels advised the couple to change their behaviour to avoid public displays of affection during their stay, suggesting the pair ‘don’t dress gay’.

Of the hotels on the recommended list for the World Cup, 33 accepted the booking from the male couple. However, the survey discovered that one third did not, or had concerns about it.

Infantino insists ‘all are welcome in Qatar’

Speaking in November last year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisted that ‘all are welcome in Qatar’ and urged LGBTQ+ fans to attend the tournament.

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“We cannot think that if we stay home and just criticize things will change. Things have improved. Things will continue to improve,” he said.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and same-sex relationships can lead to criminal charges and a prison sentence of up to seven years, according to Amnesty International.

Despite this, the Qatari authorities have previously claimed that LGBTQ+ people can book and share rooms during the tournament.

Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari says LGBTQ+ fans can book rooms together

Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari – a security chef in the Qatari government – also stated that LGBTQ+ supporters would be permitted to book rooms during the tournament.

“Reserve the room together, sleep together — this is something that’s not in our concern,” he told the Associated Press in April.

“We are here to manage the tournament. Let’s not go beyond, the individual personal things which might be happening between these people … this is actually the concept.”

However, Al-Ansari suggested that rainbow flags could be taken off fans ‘to protect them from being attacked’ and that he is against any public show of support of the LGBTQ+ rights.

“You want to demonstrate your view about the [LGBTQ+] situation, demonstrate it in a society where it will be accepted,” he said.

“We realize that this man got the ticket, comes here to watch the game, not to demonstrate, a political [act] or something which is in his mind.

“Watch the game. That’s good. But don’t really come in and insult the whole society because of this.”

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World Cup hotels LGBTQ+

Survey conducted at the end of March

Swedish and Danish media’s survey of the FIFA-approved World Cup hotels in Qatar took place at the end of March, and the journalists did not specify a date for their honeymoon when booking.

Given that fans are required to have a match ticket to book a room at a hotel, the researchers contacted the venues by email and over the phone to enquire about hotel policy.

“Among the hotels that have answered no, one has answered by email,” said NRK.

“The other two have answered the phone. In both cases where hotels have answered the phone, the person in question has conferred with colleagues / superiors before we have received an answer.”

One of the hotels that warned the couple about their behaviour in Qatar said: “If you put on make-up and dress gay, it goes against the country’s and the government’s policy.

“But for our hotel, it’s okay [to book], if you dress appropriately and do not exhibit sexual behaviour or kiss in public.”

Another hotel replied: “I would like to inform you that we have previously had incidents where the police have picked up Qataris at the hotel who have had homosexual relationships.”

World Cup hotels LGBTQ+

Findings shared with FIFA

Following the survey, the Norwegian and Swedish journalists shared their findings with FIFA, with the world football governing body responding by saying: “FIFA is confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBT + supporters, so that they, like everyone else, can feel welcome and safe during the championship.”

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The football associations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark have expressed concern at the findings of the investigation.

President of the Norwegian Football Association, Lise Klaveness, told NRK: “This is of course not acceptable, nor in line with what the World Cup committee has promised, that there should be a guarantee for legal security (for gays, editor’s note) during the championship. And to feel safe, you need to know in advance that you are going to be safe. This is where we are now in time, so it must be in place.”

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