In response to international criticism regarding its anti-LGBT policies and laws in the country, Qatar has announced a suspension of punishment for minor offenses of its discriminatory legislation while football players are planning to wear anti-discrimination bands in protest of the prejudicial laws. 

Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the Football Association, said that while Qatar will not be changing their anti-LGBT laws, the country will loosen them during the World Cup by allowing same-sex couples to hold hands and to bring rainbow flags into the country, so long as they do not drape it over mosques, according to the Guardian

“We absolutely have been asking those questions of the Qatari authorities over the last six months,” Bullingham said. “But the laws you’re referring to actually get suspended for a period of time before the World Cup, so the actions you are referring to aren’t illegal.”

Bullingham said that Qatar will allow these “minor offenses” to remain unpunished so long as they respect the local culture, as the Football Association and the Qatari government attempt to reassure LGBT fans that they can travel to the country without fear. 

“The message we have had from Qatar overall is that everyone is welcome and those communities are absolutely welcome. Where they have been a bit frustrated is that they have asked several follow-up questions and not got the answers,” Bullingham said. 

In response to these laws, some football clubs participating in the World Cup are pressuring FIFA to allow team captains and players to wear armbands with a rainbow heart as a way of campaigning against discrimination, the Associated Press reported. 

The football associations included under the “OneLove” campaign for human rights, are Germany, France, Belgium, and Denmark, with one of the abstaining countries, Poland, instead preferring to wear armbands with the colors of Ukraine.

“A request to FIFA has also been submitted asking that permission be provided for the armbands to be worn throughout the FIFA World Cup,” the Welsh football federation said.

“Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching,” English captain Harry Kane said. 

FIFA, which has not commented on the movement by several football associations regarding the armbands, prohibits “teams from bringing their own armband designs” as they insist on pre-approved designs during the games. 

fauzan-saari-cjYQBSKDSII-unsplash Qatar has announced that its anti-LGBT laws will be suspended for the duration of the World Cup, allowing for minor offenses to go unpunished while football clubs look into possible protests against these laws. This is a representational image. Fauzan Saari/Unsplash.