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Qatar World Cup

Taoiseach: There 'can't be any inhibition' for LGBT people to attend World Cup in Qatar

It comes after UK foreign secretary James Cleverly said LGBT football fans should be “respectful of the host nation” if they attend the tournament.

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that there cannot be “any inhibition” for LGBT people to travel to the World Cup in Qatar. 

It comes after comments made by the British foreign secretary James Cleverly, who said that LGBT football fans should be “respectful of the host nation”if they visit the country to attend the World Cup. 

Cleverly urged fans to show “a little bit of flex and compromise” and to “respect the culture of your host nation”.

His comments sparked a wave of backlash, including from veteran LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was questioned by police in Qatar yesterday after staging a one-man LGBT rights protest.

Asked about Cleverly’s comments by The Journal, Micheál Martin said: “There can’t be any inhibition for people, in respect of sexual orientation or for any reason, to travel to Qatar to attend the World Cup, there cannot be and that must be made clear to the authorities, that that will not be tolerated.”

Ireland did not qualify for this year’s tournament, which kicks off on 20 November, but some Irish fans may still travel to watch other teams compete. 

The World Cup has been shrouded in controversy since Qatar was awarded the tournament 12 years ago. 

Same-sex marriage is prohibited in the country, and same-sex sexual activity is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Tatchell heavily criticised Cleverly’s advice to British football fans, and said going to the event is “colluding with a homophobic, sexist and racist regime”.

“The UK Government must use its public voice to condemn the appalling human rights abuses carried out daily by the Qatari regime,” he said. 

“Unless we all speak out, Qatar will have achieved its goal of sports washing its appalling reputation during the World Cup. Mr Cleverly has an opportunity to highlight the abuses being carried out by the regime.

“All fans, not just LGBTs, should boycott the World Cup and use their social media to amplify the shocking human rights abuses by the Qatari state. Going to the World Cup is colluding with a homophobic, sexist and racist regime.”

Last night, Australia’s football team became the first to release a collective statement condemning Qatar’s human rights abuses

Sixteen members of the men’s team — the Socceroos — appeared in a short video explaining their position.

“We have learned that the decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has resulted in the suffering and harm of countless of our fellow workers,” said Jackson Irvine, a one-time Celtic midfielder.

The players acknowledged Qatar’s attempts to improve working conditions for migrants but said these changes had been “inconsistent”.

Governing body Football Australia also released a statement critical of Qatar’s human rights record.

“We acknowledge the significant progress and legislative reforms (that) have occurred in Qatar over recent years to recognise and protect the rights of workers, and we encourage all stakeholders to continue this path to reform,” it said.

“However, we have also learned that the tournament has been associated with suffering for some migrant workers and their families and this cannot be ignored.”

Captains from a number of leading European football nations — including England, France and Germany — will wear armbands with rainbow colours and the message “One Love” in an anti-discrimination campaign during the tournament. 

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Jane Moore and Christina Finn
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