Qatar's law severely punishing LGBT people is a ‘moral and ethical’ issue quite apart from ‘racism’, said Sepp Blatter, president International Federation of Football Association (FIFA).
Gay campaigners and readers of Gay Star News have reacted angrily to Blatter’s comments, labeling it as ‘shocking’ and saying it disregards human rights and puts money before morals.
Article 296 of Qatar’s Penal Code stipulate imprisonment between 1 and 5 years for same-sex acts, including possible lashes and fines.
FIFA has recently passed tough new sanctions to clamp down on racism and all forms of discrimination within the game.
When asked, however, about Qatar being award by FIFA to host the world cup in 2022 while enforcing strict anti-gay laws Blatter said: ‘What you are speaking about, I do not think it is part of racism, perhaps this is going into ethics and morals.
‘This, I think, is not the time being to bring it now. If you bring it to my attention then I should have a look on that.
‘But I cannot give you a definite answer’, reported the BBC.
Blatter was previously strongly criticized on the same issue when he was asked in December 2010 to give advice to gay fans wishing to attend the 2022 tournament, he said: ‘I'd say they should refrain from any sexual activities.’
The 77-year-old later apologized for his comments.
He also patronized and made a sexist comment during the FIFA congress in Mauritius on Friday (30 May).
He described one of the women candidates for FIFA’s executive committee, Australia's Moya Dodd, as ‘good, and good-looking’ and said: ‘Any ladies in this room? Say something ladies! You are always speaking at home. Now you can speak here,’ slurred Blatter.
LGBT campaigners and readers of Gay Star News slammed Blatter’s comments.
Georges Azzi, the executive director for the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, told GSN: ‘Qatar is not only criminalizing homosexuality but also funding ultra conservative islamist movements and is a leading country in pushing towards intolerant agendas and laws that are oppressive to women and LGBT people.
‘But I guess money comes before the morals.’
Joseph Aoun, manager of Beirut’s gay bar Bardo commented to GSN: ‘If Blatter accepts discrimination in Qatar under the name of morality, well our world morality makes us believe that he’s a retarded person who should retire from his official position.’
Human rights campaigner, Franck Zanni said: ‘This is outrageous. FIFA should be instrumental in helping closeted gay football players come out and contribute to keep homophobia out of sports arenas.
‘Because of statements and stances like these, it is heading in the opposite direction and this is wrong.’
Readers of Gay Star News also slammed Blatter’s comments.
Neil Pearson said: ‘Is he suggesting homosexuality is immoral? So the “moral high ground” would be to persecute and discriminate?’
And Barrie Gabbott stated: ‘Being gay is not a moral or an ethical issue - it is the same as race, it is not chosen or developed because of culture, but a natural part of humanity.
‘Religion is chosen and is part of ones upbringing and environment.
‘In his position of authority he should be clear and condemn of any form of abuse wherever and whenever it occurs.’