Security forces in Qatar have arbitrarily arrested and abused LBTQ+ people in the country as recently as last month ahead, according to an international human rights organisation.
It comes just four weeks ahead of the start of the FIFA World Cup, with the first match of the tournament taking place on November 20 between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.
In a report published by the non-profit organisation, Human Rights Watch, six cases of “severe and repeated beatings” and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody were documented between 2019 and 2022.
Human Rights Watch indicated that security forces arrested people in public places “based solely on their gender expression” and unlawfully searched their phones.
As a requirement for their release, the organisation said that security forces mandated that transgender women detainees attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored “behavioural healthcare” centre.
The organisation said that it interviewed six LGBT Qataris, including four transgender women, one bisexual man and one gay man.
Doctor Nasser Mohamed, an openly gay Qatari activist, helped connect Human Rights Watch to five of those interviewed.
All of those interviewed told the organisations that Preventive Security Department officers detained them in an underground prison in Al Dafneh, Doha, where they were verbally harassed and subjected to physical abuse ranging from slapping to kicking and punching until they bled.
One woman said that she lost consciousness, with security officers also inflicting verbal abuse, extracted forced confessions and denied detainees access to legal counsel, family and medical care.
All six said that police forced them to sign pledges indicating that they would “cease immoral activity”.
They were all detained without charge, in one case for two months in solitary confinement without access to legal counsel.
None received any record of having been detained.
Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said the authorities in the country need to end the “impunity” for violence against LGBT people.
“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said Younes.
“Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching.”
Younes urged FIFA to push for long-term reform in the country to protect LGBT people.
They continued: “Only weeks ahead of the World Cup, LGBT people are raising the alarm on the abuses they have endured by security forces.
“The Qatari government should call an immediate halt to this abuse and FIFA should push the Qatari government to ensure long-term reform that protects LGBT people from discrimination and violence.”
Speaking earlier this month, Gary Lineker said that he wants to see a Premier League play come out as gay during the World Cup to send a strong message to the host nation.
The former England strike told the Daily Mirror that he knows of two gay players in the English Premier League, saying they had been “very close” to coming out previously.
“It would be great to see if one or two of them came out during the World Cup. It would be amazing,” he said.
“I know for a fact that some have bene very close and contemplated it. There’s a couple I know, but obviously it’s not for me to say who they are.”