A large majority of people in the UK think that the World Cup should not be held in Qatar due to its position on LGBTQ+ rights.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. Despite these and other serious human rights concerns, FIFA members voted in 2010 to award the 2022 tournament to the Gulf state.
One poll found that 62% of Britons believe Qatar’s stance on gay rights alone should have been enough to exclude it from hosting, a position that is consistent across ages, genders and political affiliations. Only 24% believe that the laws of the country should not matter, and 14% are not sure.
Furthermore, only 43% of Britons believe that teams from England and Wales have the right to enter the tournament given Qatar’s anti-gay laws. 39 percent of all respondents think teams shouldn’t participate, while 18 percent said they don’t know.
The World Cup, postponed for the winter to avoid Qatar’s sweltering summer heat, kicks off on November 20 when the hosts take on Ecuador.
The survey, conducted between November 1 and 3 by Public First for More in Common, also asked 2,030 adults whether Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, was right to boycott the tournament because of Qatar’s human rights record. 69% of those surveyed said he was right, 12% disagreed.
Starmer was asked by LBC radio last month if he would like to attend and said neither he nor any of his teammates would be there even if England reached the final. “I would like to, but the human rights situation is such that I would not go. That would be the position of the Labor Party,” he said.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch said last month that Qatari residents risked persecution for standing up for LGBTQ+ rights, while raising concerns about the safety of foreign gay fans or others showing solidarity, for example, by carrying a rainbow flag.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been criticized for urging gay fans to show respect for Qatar. He said last month: “When you visit a country, it is important that you respect the culture of the host country.” In response, the television presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker tweeted: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything gay. Is that the message?
Lucy Powell, the shadow sports secretary, called Cleverly’s comments “shockingly tone deaf”, adding: “The government should challenge FIFA for how it puts fans in this position and ensure the full safety of all fans. present, not to defend discriminatory values”. “
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Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell accused Cleverly of “collaborating with a homophobic, sexist and racist regime.”
The survey found that 44% thought Cleverly was right to ask for respect from fans and 34% thought he was wrong, while 24% were undecided. Cleverly has said that he intends to enter the tournament.
Luke Tryl, UK director of More in Common, said: “The British public clearly agrees that Qatar’s position on LGBT rights was a reason for not awarding the World Cup to that country… The clear message from the public to FIFA is that future tournament venues should prioritize human rights considerations.”