Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Boycotting Qatar is not the answer

A version of this article first appeared on the Morning Star's website - www.morningstaronline.co.uk

Boycotting the World Cup in 2022 is not the answer for LGBT supporters angry at Fifa for awarding the event to Qatar.

That was the message today from Jason Hall - founding director of The Justin Campaign, which aims to rid football of homophobia.

"We should encourage LGBT people to go over to Qatar and rub salt in the wounds," said Hall. "There's no point shunning it (the World Cup) and pretending it doesn't exist."

The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) last week called for an LGBT boycott of "all activities associated with World Cup 2022."

However, Hall believes that the issue of gay rights in Qatar would simply be swept under the carpet if LGBT fans chose not to attend.

"There's a lot less to talk about if we (LGBT people) aren't there," Hall said. "But if thousands of us head over, it would make a lot more impact than simply saying: 'Well, we're not going.'

"It wouldn't register with the wider community if we didn't go. And at least people in Qatar will experience gay people in their country and it would give hope to LGBT people living there. I would love something like the Gay Games or another gay sporting event to be held in Qatar at the same time as the World Cup."

He added: "If taking some lashings and getting six months in prison is the price I have to pay, then so be it."

"The World Cup didn't go to South Africa during the apartheid years and it shouldn't go to Russia or Qatar now.

"There is a sexual apartheid taking place in Qatar right now, and Russia's not much better - they have a terrible record there with regards to LGBT rights. To give World Cups to countries where apartheid is still happening is unacceptable."

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