Labour MP Luke Pollard, who is gay, has urged the British Foreign Secretary to retract his advice to LGBTQ+ supporters going to the World Cup, saying they would “force LGBTQ+ people back into the closet,” according to Chronicle Live.
Luke Pollard has also urged Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to apologize for comments, warning it is “not safe” for LGBTQ+ supporters to travel to the Qatar World Cup, Wales Online has reported.
James Cleverly had previously controversially advised LGBTQ+ fans heading to the World Cup to “respect the culture of your host nation” and to show a “little bit of flex and compromise.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity can be punished by up to seven years in prison.
Foreign Office advice says “any intimacy between persons in public can be considered offensive, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent.”
Speaking in the House of Commons, Foreign Office minister David Rutley said: “Ministers and senior officials have raised the concerns of LGBT+ visitors with Qatari authorities at all levels and will continue to engage on this issue ahead of and during the World Cup. Qatar has repeatedly committed that everybody is welcome to the tournament and we will continue to encourage equal treatment and the respect of individual rights, and identify what action the Qatari authorities are taking to match their commitment.”
Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “I declare an interest as a massive gay, but as an England-supporting homosexual it is not safe for someone like me to watch the World Cup in Qatar. Because of the human rights abuses of migrant workers and Qatar’s LGBT population I personally don’t think Qatar should ever have been awarded a major sporting competition. Will the minister back the home nations’ captains in wearing a rainbow armband when they play at the World Cup?”
Luke Pollard went on to ask the minister to apologize for the Foreign Secretary’s remarks, adding: “Because it is never acceptable for a Government minister to force LGBT people back into the closet.”
“I respect [Pollard’s] comments and he and I have worked together on many issues in the past and I understand his campaigns on this issue. Our priority is, of course, the safety of all British nationals who will be travelling to the World Cup. LGBT+ rights is an issue the UK prioritizes internationally and we continue to engage with the Qatar authorities on this issue. Many sportsmen and women use their platform to do important work across a range of issues, that’s their personal choice. The UK Government stands by our values and our teams stand by the values of our home nations.”
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