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Friday, June 24, 2011

Royal Qatar campaign against gays raises questions of gay rights during World Cup

Concern that oil-rich Gulf state Qatar will impose its conservative mores on gays during its hosting of the 2022 World Cup is likely to mount as a result of efforts by Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the wife of the emir of Qatar, to promote traditional family mores.

Sheikha Moza has established Al-Aween, a charitable enterprise dedicated to combating "deviation from acceptable social behavior" and "provide specialized treatment for all kinds of behavioral deviation that require thorough intervention and treatment by specialists," according to journalist and Middle East expert Brian Whitaker.
“I began to have doubts about Sheikha Moza's enlightenment a few years ago, when she hosted a conference in Qatar which brought together some of the world's most reactionary religious elements – Mormons and Catholics as well as Muslims – to ‘defend the family’. The family is in peril, she warned in her opening speech (to Al-Aween), because of attempts to predefine the concept of family in a manner contrary to religious precepts,” Mr. Whitaker wrote on his blog.

Al-Aween says on its website that it “seeks to raise awareness and carry out rehabilitation within the community to reform people. It endeavors to preserve order and establish a cohesive society based on values that reflect the desired image of the community, protect future generations from deviation and corruption, defend against intrusive ideologies, and place an emphasis on identity and authenticity of Qatari society."
It further asserts that it constitutes “a significant milestone strengthening family ties and working to promote family security. It identifies and emphasises gender roles in society, in order for the stability of all families."

Mr. Whitaker notes that Al-Aween cooperates with experts such as Dalia al-Moumen, a psychiatric consultant, who advocates maintaining traditional gender roles and treating "sexual identity perturbation" and has lectured to the group on the "problem" of men with long hair and girls wearing trousers – and the "negative impacts" of that on mental health, society, religion and the family.
Al-Aween also works with Abdul Alim Ibrahim, a senior consultant in psychiatry, whose answer to the question of what impact homosexuals have on society with a gay-conspiracy theory.

Mr. Ibrahim criticized Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe for going too far by describing homosexuals as lower than pigs and dogs, but argues that the development of gay rights in some countries is "not based on scientific studies". He charges that the rise of homosexuality is the result of "tension made by powerful homosexuals, which affected many civil organizations, human rights organizations, decisions and law makers".

Qatar has made concessions on its ban on the consumption of alcohol in public during the World Cup but has yet to indicate whether it will also be more lenient towards gays. Homosexuality is banned in the majority of Middle Eastern and Muslim countries.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter indicated earlier this year that he was unsympathetic to demands by gay groups that gay rights be acknowledged during the World Cup by implying that gays attending the tournament may want to practice abstinence.

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