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04/19/2007


Call For World Cup Boycott In Response To Qatar's 'Gay Test'

Qatar Stadium

Last month we told you about how the new FIFA anti-discrimination task force is already on the job to hold Russia and Qatar accountable for their anti-gay laws given that both nations will be hosting the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. The task force is going to have their work cut out for them now that Qatar, along with several other Persian Gulf countries, has put in place a medical "gay test" to screen out homosexual visitors to their country.

In the wake of such absurdity, LGBT activist Peter Tatchell is calling for an out-and-out boycott of the country, insisting that the World Cup in Qatar be canceled.

"This contradicts previous assurances given to FIFA by the Qatar government that everyone will be welcome and that there will be no discrimination," [Tatchell] said.

"FIFA now has no option but to cancel the world cup in Qatar. Allowing it to go head in these circumstances would involve FIFA colluding with homophobic discrimination."

A FIFA spokesperson said that they are "not aware about the specific matter" of the proposed legislation, but "FIFA's zero tolerance policy towards any acts of racism and discrimination affecting the freedom of private persons - including their sexual and political freedom - applies to the FIFA World Cup and to all other FIFA events and activities."


FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Taskforce Seeks to Pressure Russia and Qatar Over Anti-gay Laws

As businesses, organizations, and high profile individuals continue to voice their opposition to LGBT human rights abuses in Russia, it seems increasingly clear that 'anti-gay' is becoming an undesirable label for countries to hold, at least from an economic and public relations perspective.

The Guardian reports that with the World Cup scheduled to take place in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively, FIFA's new anti-discrimination taskforce is joining in the fight to ensure those nations are held accountable for their anti-gay laws:

Piara PowarPiara Powar (pictured), the director of Football Against Racism in Europe and a member of the taskforce along with the former FA chairman David Bernstein, said it would raise the issue at a meeting this week.

"Qatar is one of the few countries where homosexuality is still illegal and there are also big challenges in terms of the new law in Russia in regard to the World Cup," he said.

"Qatar wants to host the tournament at the start of a new decade, they will want to present an internationally welcoming face and with FIFA's help we are sure it will be possible to win over the Qataris so that they come into line with the rest of the world, including other countries in the Gulf and Middle East and change the law on homosexuality.

"These are issues of civil rights, fans and players of all races, religions and sexuality need to feel comfortable going to the World Cups in both Russia and Qatar. It is going to be quite a challenge but we have to make sure that football becomes the vehicle for social change that we claim it is. This is a big issue."

While the taskforce is eager to begin work combating anti-gay discrimination, FIFA's leadership seems less enthusiastic. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who refused to comment on the issue at the ongoing International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires, sparked a firestorm in 2011 when he joked that gay people should "refrain from sexual activity" during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

[photo credit: Matthew Ashton/EMPICS]


Russian Anti-Gay Policies 'Could Kill Its Cities'

St-petersburg
Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance. 

Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:

"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.

"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."

Stolichnaya-1280x960It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.

Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."


Russia To Host FIFA World Cup In 2018, Officials Already Being Questioned About Anti-Gay Laws

FIFA 2018The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi could prove just the start of the anxiety and frustration already plaguing LGBT athletes, sports fans, and supporters across the globe. Russia is currently set to host FIFA's World Cup soccer tournament in 2018, and Russia 2018's CEO, Alexey Sorokin, is already being grilled with questions.

Sorokin recently gave an interview to World Football Insider, in which he defended Russia's anti-gay laws as "largely misinterpreted." "It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he argued. Of course, those committing acts of homophobic violence or luring gay teens on the internet don't seem to be making the same convenient distinction between homosexuality and "propaganda". He assures gay participants in the upcoming tournament that, as long as they keep their private lives to themselves, "they have nothing more to fear." He also adds that:

"They have guarantees and assurances that they will not be affected. The minister of sport [Vitaly Mutko] has given a full and detailed explanation. It would be strange to see someone choose such an event as the Olympic Games as a stage to propogate these ideas. We suppose people come to participate or to watch and be part of it not to display their views. Private life should remain private." 

Alexey-sorokinSo you're allowed to be gay, just not in any sort of public way...

"Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."

The answer might not be as "obvious" as you think. But still, wait for it...

"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views... not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."

...and there it is. Obviously, this comparison of LGBT people to Nazis hasn't sat well with a host of groups and entities, including FIFA, who asked for greater clarification regarding the law, according to National Post. Unfortunately, the organizers behind Russia 2018 must have given them the answers they were looking for. FIFA said in a statement that:

"Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety. FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise."

Before anyone gets too anxious, though, know that FIFA's policies towards discrimination are substantially broader than those currently being used by the International Olympic Commission. Article 3 of its statutes clearly state that:

“Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

FIFa StadiumThus, at least FIFA seems better poised at present to protect its LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators from Russia's incredibly anti-gay climate. There is no doubt, however, that Sochi's WInter Olympic Games will set some sort of precedent for the World Cup.

It is also worth mentioning that FIFA has already awarded its 2022 World Cup tournament to Qatar, another country with anti-gay laws on the books. Thus, the ripple effects of the 2014 Olympics will almost certainly be felt for years and years to come.


News: Prince Harry, Ricky Martin, Presbyterian Church, Madonna

 road The Simpsons beat Qatar University to the punch in its plans for the 2022 World Cup.

Harry  road Prince Harry graces the cover of GQ UK.

 road Puerto Rican pastor condemns Ricky Martin's homosexuality: “I want to say to Ricky Martin that there is no need to go to the extreme by making our children and youths confused."

 road Rumors float around the Internet about a Britney Spears/Enrique Iglesias tour.

 road  Elton John has inspired gay Westlife singer Mark Feehily to become a father.

 road The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina votes for no gay clergy: "The Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order requires clergy candidates to 'live either in fidelity with the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.' The proposed changes would have removed all reference to sexual orientation or behavior, in effect leaving the decision of fitness to serve to the local presbyteries."

 road Reese Witherspoon got hitched in Ojai, California yesterday.

 road Mariah Carey could give birth any day now.

Mad  road The employees that Madonna recently fired from her Raising Malawi charity are suing her for wrongful dismissal.

 road Take a look at the houses that Jeremy Renner has successfully flipped over the years.

 road If you come across a deadly cobra in the Bronx it's probably the same one that went missing from the Bronx Zoo yesterday.

 road Controversy surrounds "Social Transformation By the Power of God," to be held at Harvard next month: "More than 1,400 people have already signed a petition here on Change.org, calling on Harvard to address this conference and not give a pedestal to people who believe gays should be executed and that Muslims and women are bringing down the reputation of the United States."

 road Gareth Thomas has an invite to the nuptials of the year - Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding: "I'm a friend of William through rugby. I'm just going to the service. I'm not nervous about it. It will be really good."


FIFA Head Sepp Blatter Apologies for World Cup Joke About Gays

Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized for cracking a joking earlier this week that gays should "refrain from sexual activities" at the Qatar World cup in 2022 because homosexuality is illegal there. 

Said Blatter: "I will not enter into such a discussion but I will just say here if I hurt a group of people in the world by making those comments then I regret it. It was not my intention and it will never be my intention to go into any discrimination because this is exactly what we (FIFA) are against, so therefore if somebody feels they have been hurt, then I regret and I present apologies for that."

In related news, there were rumors earlier this week that some members of the World Cup Selection Committee which chose Qatar were paid $10 million for their vote.


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