World’s only openly gay active pro footballer is concerned for LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022 World Cup
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The International Olympic Committee has agreed to change the voting criteria for the 2022 World Cup, bringing the competition in Qatar into line with the vast majority of professional sporting bodies around the world.
The agreement brings the process for the first time into line with the International Paralympic Committee’s long-term commitment to address discrimination against and violence towards the LGBTQ community, as well as the growing body of international research on the issue.
The IOC decision will be seen as a positive step for the LGBTQ community in Qatar following a series of protests last summer, where people opposed to the country’s plans for hosting the tournament showed up in large numbers, blocking football fields and disrupting matches.
The situation was brought to a head at the end of June when a handful of people were arrested after blocking traffic along the road outside the country’s national stadium in Doha.
The demonstrations were organized by a group representing the country’s conservative society and their focus was on what they felt was cultural insensitivity towards Qatar’s LGBTQ community, which they believe have been forced out of the country due to “unfair” sexual orientation laws.
The IOC and the government of Qatar initially ignored the protests when they were first mooted and even went as far to accuse the protestors of “incompetent” and a “threat” to “deter foreign investment.”
But in response to the protests, a group of pro-LGBTQ activists formed a human chain around the football stadium in protest. In response, the government then agreed to the IOC’s revised voting criteria, which will bring the 2022 host to line with international sporting bodies.
“This is a landmark moment for the LGBTQ community in Qatar, and one which was inevitable and will benefit everyone,” said Steven Wise, a prominent figure in the LGBTQ community.
“The decision to bring the