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Qatar stops one-man protest by British LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell

Tatchell wanted to 'shine a light on the abusive human rights in Qatar' ahead of the Fifa World Cup due to be held in the Gulf country next month
Peter Tatchell carrying a protest sign outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, 25 October 2022 (Twitter\Peter Tatchell)
Peter Tatchell carrying a protest sign outside the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, 25 October 2022 (Twitter\Peter Tatchell)

Qatari police on Tuesday stopped a one-person protest in Doha led by former Labour party candidate and British LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Tatchell said that he staged a 35-minute protest on the road outside the National Museum of Qatar ahead of the World Cup tournament which Doha is due to host on 20 November.

'This is the first-ever LGBT+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state'

- Peter Tatchell

According to a video broadcast by Peter Tatchell Foundation on YouTube, on Tuesday morning, a policeman approached Tatchell, folded his protest sign and stopped him before the footage was cut short.

"I was arrested and detained for 49 minutes and subjected to interrogation about where I was from and where I was going," Tatchell claimed in a video message.

Qatar's Government Communication Office told Reuters that Tatchell was "neither arrested nor detained", and was simply told "cordially and professionally" to move.

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Tatchell then said that he was released and was heading to the airport. Tatchell was wearing a white T-shirt with the hashtag "#QatarAntiGay".

"This protest was to shine a light on the abusive human rights in Qatar. This is the first-ever LGBT+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state. But also, I sought to draw attention to the abuse of rights of women and migrant workers as well," Tatchell added.

The former Labour party candidate and LGBTQ+ campaigner heads the Peter Tatchell Foundation, which raises awareness about several issues, including homophobia, sexism and gender inequality.

The foundation's Twitter account posted a picture of Tatchell carrying a sign which said, "Qatar arrests, jails, and subjects LGBTs to 'conversion'", in front of the National Museum of Qatar.

It tweeted: "Busy few hours with the first ever LGBT+ protest in #Qatar ahead of the World Cup," thanking the staff at the UK embassy in Doha and the Foreign Office. Tatchell also tweeted the same photo and text.

'Slander' campaign

Qatar, an energy-rich Gulf country, has faced criticism over a wide range of issues by human rights activists since 2010, including reports of mistreatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people. 

On Tuesday, Qatar's ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said that his country faced an unprecedented campaign that amounted to slander and fabrications since winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

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In the televised address, the emir said Qatar dealt with this criticism in good faith and "even considered some criticism as positive and useful to help us improve aspects that need to be improved".

However, he added that the campaign was relentless and included "slander and double standards until it reached such a ferocity that everyone wondered about the real motives and reasons behind this campaign". 

Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, has said the Qatar World Cup, set to start on 20 November untill 18 December, will be the "best ever".

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