An investigation has revealed a number of Fifa-recommended hotels in Qatar have refused to accept LGBTQ+ guests, despite previous claims people of all sexualities and genders would be welcomed for the World Cup.
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, where this year’s Fifa World Cup is set to take place between November and December, so Nassar al-Khater, the chief executive of the event in Qatar, previously assured ‘any fan, of any gender, (sexual) orientation, religion, race’, that they would be welcome.
Many fans have already bought tickets and started to make arrangements to allow them to attend the sporting event in person, but journalists from Swedish and Danish media found they sometimes struggled to make simple reservations when they contacted the 69 hotels in the state recommended by Fifa for the World Cup.
Those conducting the study in a collaboration between NRK, SVT in Sweden and DR in Denmark posed as a newly-wed gay couple seeking a room and found they received a number of unwelcoming responses to their inquiry.
Three hotels simply refused to accept the reservation, with one suggesting it would be against hotel policy to do so.
A response from the hotel, shared by NRK, read: “Thank you for your inquiry, but unfortunately we have to inform you that we can not give you a room due to the hotel’s policy. Should there be anything more, do not hesitate to get in touch. With best regards.”
Following the survey, the hotel reiterated its policy to deny access to gay people. Another of the three claimed everyone is welcome, but that it is not okay to show public affection, while the third continued to deny that gay people could stay in the hotel under Qatar’s rules, but said there may be exceptions for the world cup.
A further 20 hotels advised the potential guests to modify their behaviour so they would ‘not show that [they] are gay’, with one claiming that it would be against country and government policy if the guests ‘put on make-up and dress gay’.
“But for our hotel,” the hotel continued, “it’s okay [to book a room], if you dress appropriately and do not exhibit sexual behaviour or kiss in public”.
The journalists were able to make inquiries with no objections at 33 of the hotels recommended by Fifa, while the rest have either failed to respond, failed to continue dialogue after an initial exchange or are currently operating as Covid quarantine hotels.
Following the revelations, Jakob Jensen, CEO of the Danish Football Association (DBU), commented: “We find this disappointing. It is disappointing for the supporters who will travel to the World Cup. That they can not feel safe in getting a hotel, no matter what sexuality they have. It is completely irrelevant what kind of orientation you have.”
When the results of the survey were raised with Fifa, the organisation said Qatar is fully aware of its responsibility to comply with Fifa’s expectations and demands.
In an email to NRK, the football association wrote: “Fifa is confident that all necessary measures will be in place for LGBT+ supporters, so that they, like everyone else, can feel welcome and safe during the championship.”
Fifa has also stressed that any form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited.
Meanwhile, the World Cup committee told the publication hotels accommodating fans, players, officials and other stakeholders will be required to comply with the protocol. It added that it treats any violation with the utmost seriousness.
The survey was conducted at the end of March with no date for the reservation specified.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email email@example.com