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October 1, 2023


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FIFA World Cup 2022: London transport system blocks Qatar ads over LGBTQ laws

2 min read

Under a 2019 policy response to LGBTQ laws, The Transport for London (TfL), London’s transport system, is not allowing advertising that “portrays Qatar as a desirable destination” or encourages people to attend the World Cup, reported news agency AFP on 26 November.

The following stance by TfL has reportedly angered Doha, which is reviewing all investments in the UK capital, as per a report by Financial Times.

Since 2019, advertisings that reference countries identified as having the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts are referred to TfL. The body review their suitability to feature on trains, buses and other sites.

Also, TfL uses a list of countries compiled by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), a federation of more than 1,700 organisations worldwide campaigning for LGBTQ rights.

Apart from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Qatar is among 11 states listed as having “effective” or “probable” death penalty policies for same-sex sexual acts.

“As a result any advertising campaign referencing them continues to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis,” AFP quoted a TfL spokesperson as saying, adding, ahead of the World Cup it provided advertising partners and brands with “further guidance” on ads likely to be deemed “acceptable to run during the tournament”.

“Advertising which promotes travel to Qatar, tourism in Qatar, or portrays Qatar as a desirable destination will not be considered acceptable at this time,” TfL noted, and added, “Advertising which promotes ticket sales, encourages people to attend the matches in person, or encourages people to attend other events in Qatar will not be considered acceptable at this time.”

While, other ads featuring the official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo or encouraging people to watch the matches on TV or streaming services were likely to be considered acceptable, it added.

The TfL policy had Qatar — one of the biggest investors in London through the emirate’s vast sovereign wealth fund — to launch a review of its investments there, reported the FT.

Recently, the Qatar Investment Authority has spent lavishly and snapped up some of Britain’s best-known landmarks and businesses, that include the luxury store Harrods and the capital’s Shard skyscraper.

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