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‘The world is watching’ Qatar, warns Peter Tatchell during a demonstration at the London Embassy | LGBTQ+ rights

Peter Tatchell has warned Qatar that the eyes of the world will be on the country during the World Cup, as protesters gathered outside its embassy in London to highlight the dangers faced by LGBTQ+ people, women and workers immigrants.

Tatchell said it was “outrageous” that figures such as David Beckham were promoting Qatar and the tournament, in effect asking fans to ignore human rights abuses and the country’s record on LGBTQ+ issues.

Tatchell, 70, who was arrested in Doha in October for organizing an individual protest outside the National Museum of Qatar, was speaking at Saturday’s protest, in an area of ​​London dotted with embassies and high commissions, a stone’s throw from Hyde Park.

Tatchell said: “Our message to Qatar the world is watching. We are here to shed light on the regime’s abuses of women, LGBT people and migrant workers. We also send a message of love and solidarity to those very brave Qataris who are fighting for democracy and human rights.

On the eve of the World Cup opener, he called on fans to boycott the games but to share stories about the situation in the country if they still watch them.

“I can understand why fans would want to watch the games. But I would ask them to use their social networks to amplify human rights violations in Qatar and to challenge Fifa on its collusion with a sexist, homophobic and racist dictatorship,” he said.

Under the overcast central London sky, the crowd of 50 shouted “no freedom, no football” and “shame on Fifa, shame on Qatar”. David Beckham’s name was booed and met with a chant of “shame on Beckham”. Once considered a gay iconthe former England captain has agreed a £150million deal to promote Qatar.

Comedian Joe Lycett said he would shred £10,000 of his own money on Sunday if Beckham did not end the sponsorship deal before the tournament started, in a protest against Qatar’s laws – which include the criminalization of homosexuality.

On Saturday, Lycett tweeted a photo of what appears to be a stack of cash with the caption “24 hours to… #benderslikeBeckham.”

Tatchell said: “It’s outrageous that celebrities like David Beckhamwho claim to be allies of the LGBTQ+ community, have called Qatar’s regime “perfection”, despite the fact that LGBT Qataris face online entrapment, “honor” killings, imprisonment and therapy. forced conversion.

Carl Fearn, co-chairman of Gay Gooners, an LGBTQ+ group for Arsenal fans, has called on Fifa, UEFA and the International Olympic Committee never to hold a tournament where being LGBTQ+ is criminalized.

“There should never again be a tournament where it’s possible to be executed for being LGBT+,” Fearn said. “Our protest is not about waving rainbow flags and holding hands. It goes further than that. It is about the right of LGBT+ people to exist and to exist on an equal footing with others.

On Saturday morning, the president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, gave a press conference where he appeared to dismiss concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar and said criticism over LGBT+ rights would eventually “close doors”.

There was discontent over his comments, as well as those of Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, who said fans should show “flexibility and compromise” and should “be respectful of the host country”.

Fearn, 59, from Barrow-in-Furness, said the Fifa chief’s comments were ‘rude’, adding: ‘Personally we have a foreign minister of color which is absolutely fantastic and shows great Progressive Britain. However, if a foreign secretary had asked someone to be ‘less black’ at a tournament or a country, imagine the response. But he asked LGBT people to do so .

Amelia Graham, a 15-year-old from east London who spoke in tears at the protest, said: ‘I feel so awful for the people of Qatar who have no voice, the people of the world whole, and I felt it was important as someone in the LGBT community to stand up for people who look like me, or look like me, or need help.

“It’s emotional because people like me are struggling and being killed and arrested, it’s awful. It’s important to speak up and do whatever we can.

Earlier this week, Beckham said Qatar and its ambassadors are changing lives for the better. “Every one of the great players I’ve had the chance to play with started in exactly the same way,” he said at a youth festival in Doha. “In a garden, a park or a street in front of their house with just a ball and an imagination that they dared to let their imaginations run wild.

“Nearly two decades ago, a small group of football fans from Qatar had an equally fantastic dream: to be able to bring the greatest football spectacle on Earth to their home country and the Middle East for the very first time. And now we are here.