Manchester Pride urges supporters to boycott World Cup 2022 over LGBTQ+ laws in Qatar

Manchester Pride is linking up with other Pride festivals across the country to urge fans to turn their backs on this year’s tournament.

Manchester Pride is urging its supporters to boycott the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar in protest at the laws against LGBTQ+ people in the Middle Eastern country.

The charity has linked up with the Pride festivals in Birmingham, Brighton and London to encourage those who attend the celebrations of diversity and tolerance each year not to watch the football as the drama unfolds in Doha. The Pride festivals have come up with five actions they want their supporters to take - which include encouraging bars and venues not to show the action from Qatar and write to the sporting authorities to protest against the decision to hold football’s showpiece event in Qatar.

Why is Manchester Pride boycotting the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

Manchester Pride says it is boycotting the FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament in protest at the laws around the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar, which has been controversially chosen as the tournament’s host country. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Qatar, with the possibility of prison sentences and a fine, while there is also the possibility of the death penalty for men under Sharia law.

Manchester Pride has partnered with the Pride festivals in Brighton, Birmingham and London to take a stand. It is encouraging as many of its supporters as possible to take part.

The parade at Manchester Pride 2022. Photo: David Hurst

The boycott’s organisers say that around two million people attend the four Pride festivals each year, and if so many people act and give the tournament a miss it could be a driver for change.

The tournament’s organisers in Qatar have faced questions about whether or not LGBTQ+ fans will be welcomed to the country to watch their national sides play. However, the Pride organisations say that while some promises have been made about welcoming all international supporters, LGBTQ+ people in Qatar itself still face marginalisation and strict laws.

What does Manchester Pride want its supporters to do?

The Pride organisations taking part in the boycott have drawn up five ways supporters can help in its stance. They are:

1. Boycott the World Cup to send a message to FIFA, broadcasters and sponsors about the importance of the lives of marginalised people.

2. Ask bars and venues not to screen World Cup matches.

3. Spread the word about Manchester Pride’s stance and letting friends and colleagues know why they are taking a stand for the LGBTQ+ community.

4. Join Stonewall’s Proud Stadium to stand with LGBTQ+ people in Qatar.

5. Write to FIFA and the tournament’s sponsors to highlight the situation that people in Qatar and other nations face.

What has Manchester Pride said about the boycott?

Mark Fletcher, CEO of Manchester Pride, said: “By choosing to host the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA has demonstrated a complete lack of concern for LGBTQ+ people. It appears to send a message to the world that they don’t think LGBTQ+ people are, or should be involved in sport, and that protecting LGBTQ+ people is not something they need to be involved with.

“Qatar officials have said that international fans of all religions, races, sexualities and genders will be welcome to the country for the tournament, but it seems as though local football fans will be held under the same aggressive laws they always are, and there are no plans to change that soon.

Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher

“We want to inform and empower our community and allies to be able to boycott the FIFA World Cup in a productive way, where we can help support the global LGBTQ+ community and shine a light on injustices and discrimination faced day to day.

“We, along with our friends at Birmingham Pride, Brighton Pride and Pride in London, have put this guidance online so that people who feel strongly about FIFA’s decision to host the World Cup in Qatar feel they can really do something about it and use their voices to say that as part of a global community we will not stand for it.”