Kicking Homophobia Out of the World Cup

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2014 National LGBT Conference
26 September 2014

Conference notes that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw claims made by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE Network) of homophobic chanting by large sections of supporters dismissed by Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA have also confirmed the awarding of the next two world cups to legislatively homophobic hosts, Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). FIFA have made little effort to ensure future world cups will be safe, inclusive and accessible for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The World Cups in Russia and Qatar are set to take place against a backdrop of repression and criminalisation of homosexuality. Existing penalties include imprisonment, exile, fines and lashes.

Conference further notes that the preparations for Qatar are mired in the blood of migrant workers with the Qatari government’s own figure on the numbers of migrants who have died on its soil shocking: 964 from Nepal, India and Bangladesh in 2012 and 2013. In all, 246 died from “sudden cardiac death” in 2012, 35 died in falls and 28 committed suicide.

Conference notes opportunities for collective action to press for change. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is pushing for changes in Qatar including prohibition of retention of workers’ passports by employers, prohibition of the collection of deposits from workers, protection of wage payments and some aspects related to working time. However other ILO concerns, in particular fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and collective bargaining and the adoption of a minimum or living wage, are not reflected in announcements by the Qatar government in May 2014. The ILO has not directly addressed homophobia in Qatar. The International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) has condemned the situation, saying that the Qatari World Cup will be “built on the blood of innocents”.

Football can be a beautiful game, but not when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) supporters face imprisonment, fines and lashes nor when migrant workers are abused and die building stadiums and other facilities.

Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to highlight issues of human rights in sport within its international work through:

1)Having cognisance of the work and campaigns of the Trades Union Congress LGBT conference, ILO, ITUC, ILGA, Professional Footballers’ Association and Gay Football Supporters’ Network;

2)Liaising with UNISON’s international committee to promote awareness of the issues of homophobia in Russia and Qatar and the grave concerns for migrant workers in Qatar;

3)Continuing to alert members of opportunities to support LGBT people in Qatar, Russia and elsewhere; and to engage in dialogue across the union to further solidarity and respect for the universality of human rights;

4)Lobbying the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and working with Labour Link over these issues.