Qatar World Cup sponsors and broadcasters express fears over anti-gay laws

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An international risk consultancy has urged RTE and other broadcasters to put pressure on Qatar to suspend anti-homosexuality laws before the 2022 football World Cup is staged there.

London-based Cornerstone Global Associates said Qatar would be the first modern host of a World Cup tournament to have banned homosexuality and made it punishable by a prison sentence.

A report by the company said that, while some in the Qatari leadership would like to see the law suspended during the tournament, conservative Muslims had resisted this.

The report said sponsors and official broadcasters of the World Cup faced a risk to their reputation from being associated with a tournament staged in a country whose law discriminated against the LGBT community.

Cornerstone said national broadcasters in European countries that showed more tolerance towards LGBT people, such as the UK and Ireland, would “feel under a moral obligation to take a stance against the existing issues” in Qatar.

It was also likely that gay-rights groups would protest against broadcasters and sponsors deemed to have endorsed or legitimatised Qatar’s discrimination against homosexuals.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, the founder of Cornerstone, pointed out that Fifa’s code of ethics, which came into force last year, banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Nuseibeh said Qatar’s anti-homosexuality law would create a “PR nightmare” for sponsors and broadcasters, and he suggested RTE and others should “protect their brand”. He said LGBT employees of sponsors and broadcasters due to work at the World Cup might fear arrest. They could then have a legitimate claim for discrimination against their employer.

Fifa said its position “on inclusivity and the protection of human rights is unequivocal” and that discrimination of any kind was prohibited. “In relation to the Fifa World Cup 2022, Qatar’s SC is fully aware of its responsibility to adhere to Fifa’s human rights and non-discrimination, equality and neutrality statutes,” it added.

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