How to support Human Rights during the Qatar World Cup

How to support Human Rights during the Qatar World Cup
First openly gay Qatari speaks to i24NEWS

Football World Cups are known for sparking rollercoasters of emotions, but not usually before they’ve even kicked off.

On the one hand, many of us can’t wait for the games to begin this weekend, on the other, we’re not sure we should watch them at all.

The reason for our internal conflict lies within the host nation and its shameful record on human rights.

The Gulf state is notorious for its treatment of migrant workers and criminalisation of same-sex relationships, and it has been dividing pundits and fans alike since it was awarded the event back in 2010.

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As calls to boycott the competition grow ever-louder, with those opening matches just hours away, we set out how you can best support what matters.

No, not the Three Lions, but moral and ethical values, and the people who fall victim to the Gulf State’s oppressive rules.

Tell Qatar ‘love is not a crime’

Dr Nas Mohamed, the only Qatari to have come out publicly, has started a petition calling on FIFA to make “two simple demands” of the country’s Government:

  1. Ensure the safety and security of all LGBT+ people travelling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup by decriminalising homosexuality.
  2. Repeal its anti-gay law and other discriminatory legislation so that “all LGBT+ Qataris have the chance to live openly, freely, and safely” and “be their authentic self”.

“There is no shame in being human. Love is not a crime,” he says in an open letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and to the chief of the tournament’s organising committee.

At the time of writing, Mohamed had racked up 81,503 signatures towards his target of 90,000. Add your name here.

Write your own (easy-to-complete) open letter

“Migrant workers have suffered terrible abuses building the World Cup in Qatar. FIFA should pay up now.”

This is how Human Rights Watch begins its campaign to provide compensation to the hundreds of thousands of workers who have lost their lives or livelihoods in creating the glittering stage for this year’s tournament.

The NGO has created an easy-to-send open letter on its website so members of the public can offer their support, too.

It, along with Amnesty International, FairSquare, and a coalition of other groups is calling on Infantino to “provide a remedy, including financial compensation, that is easily accessible to migrant workers and their families.”

It wants FIFA to reserve an amount “at least equivalent to the US$440 million prize money provided to teams participating in the 2022 World Cup”, which can then be invested in funds to provide remedies to workers, and in initiatives to improve workers’ protections.

Sign a petition to end forced labour

The non-profit Freedom United is also spotlighting Qatar’s use of forced labour and calling for an end to this barbaric practice.

It points to the “kafala” system – a strict sponsorship programme that brings foreign workers into the country but then denies them basic human rights, essentially exposing them to slavery-like conditions.

And though the Qatari government has introduced new laws to reform the system, there is still a long way to go until kafala is successfully killed off and workers’ rights are properly implemented.”

“Now is the time to keep up the pressure," Freedom United says.

You can sign its petition to end forced labour and “improve the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Qatar” here.

Support local charities

This Qatari government website provides a list of Human Rights organisations and charities in the country. These include foundations for combating human trafficking and protecting children and women.

However, it’s worth noting that none of the centres listed focus on LGBTQ+ people or migrant workers.

Help fill a ‘Proud Stadium’

British charity Stonewall is calling for people to help fill a “virtual stadium” with supporters of LGBTQ+ rights to “shine a light on the injustices that our communities face in Qatar, and in many more countries around the world.”

Its website states: “Together, we can send a powerful message to global leaders, whether sponsors, broadcasters or politicians: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and we won’t stand for the persecution of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar, or anywhere else.”

It aims to gather 80,000 participants - the size of the Lusail Stadium in Qatar where the World Cup final will be held.

To join, you can sign up here.

Volunteer with Amnesty International and learn from its work

Amnesty International is a leading light in the global fight to end modern slavery and the systematic discrimination and abuse of different communities.

Less than a month ago, it released a report on what, if any, progress has been made in Qatar on labour rights in the 12 years since it was granted stewardship of the 2022 World Cup.

This report details the impacts of the reforms that the country has introduced so far and sets out what further action is needed to fully protect migrant workers there.

There are a number of ways in which you can support Amnesty: by signing its joint petition calling for the compensation of migrant workers; by taking up one of its volunteering opportunities; by becoming a member of the organisation, and, of course, by donating.

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