In November, the World Cup will take place in Qatar. The desert state presents itself as cosmopolitan, Fifa wants to put football in the foreground. But the emirate has been criticized for years for serious human rights violations. Same-sex sexual acts are forbidden and can be punished with flogging, several years imprisonment and theoretically even death.
The harassment faced by the LGBTIQ+* community in Qatar is rarely made public. RTL gives an insight late Wednesday evening. For the first time, reporters Jonas Gerdes and Timo Latsch have succeeded in interviewing homosexual Qataris on camera about the difficult situation in their homeland. (“Red card instead of rainbow – homosexuals in Qatar, Wednesday, 12:20 a.m).
For fear of criminal prosecution by the government, some locals only communicate about their sexuality with the help of code words. The preliminary talks with the reporters took place via encrypted messenger services, the Cologne-based private broadcaster said. They appear at secret locations in Europe and Asia for the interview.
The voices are impressive. “We have an existential fear of punishment and death because what we learned in our youth is that being gay is an aberration, not a natural thing,” a Katari told reporters about the systematic discrimination against homosexuals in his homeland.
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So RTL sets accents in terms of football World Cup, maybe something different than ARD and ZDF? There are still five months until the World Cup. Since it takes place in winter, this also has a noticeable impact on the TV timetable that has been learned for decades, but above all on marketing. The fourth quarter, which is so important for private broadcasters like RTL, harbors great uncertainties. What to broadcast, what to advertise against World Cup football?
And asked the other way around: How critical are ARD and ZDF, who present the World Cup exclusively and should not lose sight of the subject of human rights, diversity, LGBTQ?
In any case, RTL creates a journalistic-investigative atmosphere – against a football World Cup of this kind RTL Deutschland focuses on the subject of LGBTIQ+.
“They took me to the police station and shaved my head.”
Reports on the frustration of suppressed love and traumatic scenes of open harassment by state authorities can be seen and heard from Qatar on Wednesday evening. “The worst thing is when I travel and then come back to Qatar and have to go through customs,” says a transgender Qatari of his experience. “They took me to the police station and shaved my head. After a few hours they let me go. When that happened, I lost all hope in the system. These people are supposed to protect us, but they do the complete opposite.”
There shouldn’t be much more positive things to say about this World Cup from the RTL pages. “For me, football stands above all for fun, fairness and diversity: the regime in Qatar doesn’t do that,” says Timo Latsch, deputy head of sports department at RTL News and for the first time since 2006 will not be on site as a sports reporter to cover football.”
Reporter Jonas Gerdes is also going in the same direction. “We have been researching to gain the trust of people from the LGBTIQ+ community since January. I’m shocked how dramatic the situation really is for them in the World Cup country.” Officially, Fifa is committed to complying with all internationally recognized human rights and is committed to protecting these rights, so far it has done too little in Qatar.