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Qatar: Survey finds some hotels will not accept LGBTQ+ couples despite Fifa promises

Investigation found three hotels refused to allow gay couple to stay, while 20 others asked them to modify their behaviour
Last month, LGBTQ+ supporter groups accused Fifa and Qatar's World Cup organising committee of ignoring their concerns for members of the community attending the tournament (AFP)

Several hotels in Qatar refused to allow a gay couple to stay, while others asked them to modify their behaviour during their visit, a Scandinavian media survey has discovered, despite Fifa's assurances they would be allowed to book rooms.

Journalists said they contacted 69 hotels in the Gulf nation, which were listed on an official World Cup website, approved by Fifa, posing as a newly-wed gay couple seeking a room.

According to the investigation by NRK in Norway, Sweden's SVT and DR in Denmark, three hotels refused to accept the reservation, with one suggesting it would be against hotel policy.  

Twenty other hotels said they would accommodate the male couple as long as they did not publicly show that they were gay. Thirty-three hotels had no issues on booking gay couples.

The three hotels did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, with a punishment of up to three years in prison and a fine and the possibility of death penalty.

However, there are no known cases in which the death penalty has been enforced for homosexuality in the country.

'Conservative country'

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) at the World Cup said Qatar is a "conservative country" but was "committed to delivering an inclusive Fifa World Cup experience that is welcoming, safe and accessible to all".

They added, however, that they would take action against hotels that do not comply.

LGBTQ+ fan groups accuse Fifa and Qatar of ignoring World Cup concerns
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"More than 100 hotels in Qatar that will accommodate visiting football fans, players, officials and other core stakeholders, will be required to comply with the Sustainable Sourcing Code," a spokesperson for the SC told Reuters.

"As a result, hotel operators complying with the Sustainable Sourcing Code are subsequently monitored and evaluated. 

"The SC treats any violation of this code or instance of discrimination with the utmost seriousness.

"We would welcome further information on these allegations to ensure any partner associated with the Fifa World Cup does not fall short of the standards expected."

Concerns ignored

Last month, LGBTQ+ supporter groups from across the world accused both Fifa and the SC of ignoring their concerns for members of the community attending the tournament later this year.

In a statement, the eight groups, including Wales' Rainbow Wall, England's LGBTQ+ fan group Three Lions Pride, the Independent Supporters Council North America and Football Supporters Europe, said both Fifa and the SC had failed to adequately prove that members of the LGBTQ+ community would be safe at the World Cup.

"In our conversations with both Fifa and the SC, there has been little effort from organisers to proactively engage around the concerns fans and rights groups have raised," the statement read.

Asked for comment following the group's statement, Fifa told the UK's Mirror newspaper: "Fifa has been exchanging regularly with a number of fan groups as part of a stakeholders engagement process on inclusion and anti-discrimination ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. 

"Concrete answers have been provided to address their concerns and Fifa will continue to engage with those groups and provide reassurances for all LGBTIQ+ fans to feel safe, respected and welcome as they follow their team at the World Cup later this year, as for all Fifa competitions."

The England football team manager Gareth Southgate had previously voiced his concerns, stating in March that he was unhappy some fans will not feel safe travelling to the event due to concerns over human rights issues in the country.

The World Cup in Qatar will take place from 21 November to 18 December.