These Qatar hotels are reportedly turning away LGBTQ+ World Cup visitors

Three hotels are reportedly refusing business to same-sex couples as the country prepares to host the World Cup later this year

Hotels in Qatar are reportedly refusing to do business with foreign same-sex couples as the country prepares to host the FIFA World Cup during November and December. 

In a May 12 investigation, reporters from three European broadcasters—Norway’s NRK, Sweden’s SVT and Denmark’s DR—contacted the 69 hotels suggested by FIFA for World Cup fans travelling to Doha, Qatar’s capital city. Posing as newlywed LGBTQ+ couples, the journalists found that three of these businesses would not permit accommodations for same-sex partners: Wyndham Grand Regency Doha, The Torch and Magnum Hotel and Suites Westbay.

Of the hotels that responded, 20 reportedly agreed to accommodate same-sex couples, but only if they did not express their sexual orientation or relationship status during their stay. Thirty-three agreed to book them with no conditions at all. 

Magnum Hotel and Suites Westbay declined to comment on the report, but the other two hotels affirmed that LGBTQ+ visitors will not be subjected to discrimination.

“While observing and respecting the law of Qatar, Wyndham Grand Regency Doha does not in any way discriminate against guests of any background and aspires to deliver the highest guest satisfaction, which will only be possible by treating everyone fairly and equally,” a spokesperson for the Wyndham Grand Regency Doha told the Reuters news wire service. 

Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people has raised concerns as the country prepares to play host to the World Cup, and this news is unlikely to alleviate those fears. Homosexual relations are currently banned in Qatar. Violators face flogging or the death penalty, although the human rights advocacy group Amnesty International notes that capital punishment for same-sex activity has not been enforced in recent years.

Several LGBTQ+ activists and celebrities—including Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley and musician Elton John—have called to boycott the World Cup over the Qatar’s extreme anti-gay laws. 

“To know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate,” Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo told U.K. newspaper The Guardian in November. “Is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?”

Government leaders in Qatar have sent mixed messages about the treatment that LGBTQ+ fans can expect should they attend this year’s World Cup games. 

Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Ansari, who is managing security for the World Cup, signalled in April that pro-LGBTQ+ symbols may be banned from this year’s events due to the country’s ongoing criminalization of queer and trans people. In comments made to the Associated Press, Al-Ansari claimed the decision was made to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ people.

 

“If [a fan] raised the rainbow flag and I took it from him, it’s not because I really want to take it to insult him, but to protect him,” he said. “Because if it’s not me, somebody else around him might attack. I cannot guarantee the behaviour of the whole people.”

But despite the ongoing scrutiny against Qatar’s same-sex laws, the country maintains that it will seek to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ visitors. Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which oversees all construction and infrastructure projects for the 2022 World Cup, said in a statement that hotels that “fail to comply with the high standards set by the organizers will have their contracts terminated.” 

“Everyone is welcome in Qatar, regardless of their race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality,” a spokesperson told U.K. outlet The Daily Mail.

Representatives also said that strict measures are being put in place to ensure that actions will be taken against hotels and other businesses who do not comply with its order. The SC didn’t specify what actions it plans to take.

FIFA also continue to assure LGBTQ+ people the soccer association governing body will not allow guests to be targeted. “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 championships,” the organization said in response to the investigation.

The World Cup in Qatar will take place from November 21 to December 17.

Elvis Kachi is a Nigerian-based fashion and culture journalist who writes about the Nigerian fashion industry and African continent at large. Besides being a Nigerian editor for Vanity Teen and weekend columnist for local newspaper BusinessDay Nigeria, Weekender, he’s also worked with publications like Essence Magazine, Industrie Africa, OkayAfrica, The Native Magazine, Culture Custodian, Rest of World and host of others. Elvis lives in Lagos, Nigeria, and speaks English.

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