LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell freed by Qatar police after defiant protest ahead of World Cup

Peter Tatchell holds up a sign protesting against Qatar's anti-LGBTQ+ regime

LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell has been freed by Qatar police after an ‘arrest’ for protesting against the country’s anti-gay laws ahead of the World Cup.

Tatchell was detained by Qatar authorities for just under 50 minutes, during which time he said he was “subjected to interrogation about where I was from and where I was going”.

In a video announcement posted to Twitter, Tatchell said: “I staged my protest on the main road outside the National Museum of Qatar for 35 minutes before state security arrived followed up by police.

“The most important thing is this protest was to shine a light on the abuse of human rights in Qatar.”

Tatchell added: “This is the first-ever LGBT+ protest in Qatar or any Gulf state, but also I sought to draw attention to the abuse of women and migrant workers as well. 

“I stand in solidarity with those brave Qatari human rights defenders who cannot express their point of view because they fear arrest, jail and possibly even torture. I salute them, they are the true heroes.”

The 70-year-old human rights campaigner is now heading to the airport where he will return home to the UK.


Shortly before his protest, the campaigner denounced Qatar’s “homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship” and accused the country of trying to “sportswash its reputation” with the upcoming World Cup.

“There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like Qatar,” Peter Tatchell said.

“It is a homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship.”

He continued: “Qatar cannot be allowed to sportswash its reputation. It is using the World Cup to enhance its international image.

“We must ensure that the tyrant regime in Doha does not score a PR victory.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and LGBTQ+ people in the Gulf state face three years in prison and hefty fines for living as their authentic selves. Sharia law may also be applied to some Muslim people, which imposes the death penalty for homosexuality.

There have also been reports that queer Qataris experience police brutality, abuse and hateful behaviour in the country.

The decision by FIFA to hold the World Cup in Qatar has been surrounded by controversy given the country’s human rights records – particularly the treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.