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Peter Tatchell arrested in Qatar following LGBTQ protest ahead of World Cup

The LGBTQ activist was arrested while staging the "first ever" public LGBTQ rights protest in any of the Gulf states.

By Alastair James

Peter Tatchell protesting in Qatar
Peter Tatchell protesting in Qatar (Image: Provided)

**Update 25/10/22**

Peter Tatchell has been freed after 49 minutes in detention. In a brief video message, he says he was interrograted as to where he was from and where he was going.

“I stand in solidarity with those brave Qatari human rights defenders who cannot express their point of view because they fear arrest, jail, and possibly even torture. I salute them. They are the true heroes,” he added.


The LGBTQ and human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, has been arrested in Qatar.

On Tuesday (25 October) Peter, 70, staged the “first ever” public LGBTQ rights protest in any of the Gulf states.

The FIFA World Cup is due to take place in Qatar between 20 November to 18 December 2022. Homosexuality is illegal there and punishable with up to three years in prison or death under Sharia law.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation says Peter’s current whereabouts are unknown. They are currently working to secure Peter’s release. 

It says Peter was arrested near Qatar’s national museum in Doha. Images should Peter holding a placard reading: “Qatar arrests, jails & subjects LGBTs to ‘conversion’ #QatarAntiGay.

He also wore a t-shirt with the hashtag: #QatarAntiGay

Speaking shortly before his protest, Peter Tatchell said: “There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Qatar. It is a homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship. 

“Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash 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.”

He continued: “I did this protest to shine a light on Qatar’s human rights abuses against LGBT+ people, women, migrant workers, and liberal Qataris. I am supporting their brave battle against tyranny.

“LGBT+ Qataris face police harassment, online entrapment, ‘honour’ killing, arrest, three years jail and potentially the death penalty. Qatar has secret gay conversion centres where LGBT+ people can be detained and subjected to abusive attempts to turn them straight.”

Peter Tatchell protesting in Qatar
Peter Tatchell protesting in Qatar (Image: Provided)

He adds: “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 change in Qatar. There have been no legislative reforms on LGBT+ or women’s rights. Improvements for migrant workers have been patchy at best. FIFA is letting Qatar evade many of its pledges when it was granted the right to hold the World Cup,” he finished.

Peter also wanted to draw attention the abuse of women and migrants in Qatar.

Recently, the Human Rights Watch organisation presented a report indicating concerns about the safety of LGBTQ people in Qatar are valid.

HRW says there have been “six cases of severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody,” the most recent case being this September.

Qatar has denied any allegations.

World Cup organisers have previously stated that everyone is welcome but in the same breath warned against public displays of affection.

Earlier this year, 16 LGBTQ organisations signed an open letter warning that the measures to protect the LGBTQ community for the World Cup in Qatar aren’t adequate.

And despite early signals that people would be able to wave rainbow flags at the World Cup, in April a senior security official in Qatar flags may be confiscated “to protect them [fans] from being attacked for promoting gay rights”

Footballer David Beckham has faced criticism for seeming to support Qatar hosting the World Cup after signing a deal to promote Qatari culture and tourism.

Numerous people have called on him to reconsider and step back from the deal, including recent Attitude Man of the Year, who called on the former England player to “speak out” and support the LGBTQ community.