Oct 24, 2022 - Sports

HRW report: LGBTQ people in Qatar jailed and beaten ahead of World Cup

Germany's players pose for a group photo with the wording "Human rights" on their T-shirts prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match  v Iceland in Duisburg in 2021.

German players wear shirts that spell out "Human Rights" before a World Cup qualifying match last year. Photo: Tobiss Schwarz/Getty Images

Security forces in Qatar have "arbitrarily arrested lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people and "subjected them to ill-treatment in detention," Human Rights Watch said in a report published Monday ahead of next month's World Cup.

The big picture: Qatari officials denied the allegations in the HRW report, which come after rights groups and several European soccer teams raised concerns about human rights in the men's soccer World Cup host nation — where homosexuality is illegal.

Of note: HRW said it has "documented six cases of severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022" in the Gulf state — as recently as last September.

Driving the news: Four transgender women, one bisexual woman and a gay man told HRW they were detained in an underground prison in the capital, Doha, without being charged.

  • Officers there "verbally harassed and subjected detainees to physical abuse, ranging from slapping to kicking and punching until they bled," according to the report by the U.S.-based rights group.
  • "One woman said she lost consciousness. Security officers also inflicted verbal abuse, extracted forced confessions, and denied detainees access to legal counsel, family and medical care," HRW added.
  • "All six said that police forced them to sign pledges indicating that they would 'cease immoral activity.'"

What they're saying: A Qatari official called the allegations "categorically and unequivocally false," per AFP.

  • The "claims were not brought to our attention until they were first reported in the media," the official continued. "If Human Rights Watch had contacted us, we would have been able to disprove the allegations," they added.
  • "Qatar does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, and our policies and procedures are underpinned by a commitment to human rights for all."
  • Representatives for HRW did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on the Qatari official's remarks.
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