Qatari police stopped a solo protest by British LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell outside the national museum of the Arabian Gulf state that is hosting next month’s World Cup soccer World Cup on Tuesday.
Tatchell, who had staged a similar protest before the 2018 World Cup in Russia, stood for more than an hour wearing a T-shirt reading “#QatarAntiGay” and holding a banner reading “Qatar arrest and subdue to conversion to LGBT”.
Two uniformed police officers and three plainclothes authorities arrived at the scene. They folded his banner and took photos of Tatchell’s passport and other documents and those of a man accompanying him.
The police left after shaking hands with Tatchell, who remained on the pavement.
Homosexuality is illegal in the conservative Muslim country and some soccer stars have raised concerns about the rights of fans who travel to attend the event, especially LGBT+ people and women, whom human rights groups say , Qatari laws discriminate.
The organizers of the World Cup in Qatar, which begins on November 20 and is the first to be held in a Middle Eastern nation, say that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or origin, is welcome, although they also warn against displays of affection in public.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch claimed that Qatari security forces had arbitrarily detained and abused LGBT+ Qataris last month.
A Qatari official said in a statement that HRW’s allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false.”
Qatar expects to receive 1.2 million visitors during the tournament, presenting an unprecedented logistical and police challenge for the small state.