(CNN) — Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Qatari security forces of arbitrarily arresting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and subjecting them to ill-treatment in detention ahead of the FIFA World Cup, the organization said in a statement. a report issued this Monday.
“As Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, seemingly confident that security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said Rasha Younes. , LGBT rights researcher at HWR Human Rights Watch.
HRW said it documented six cases of “severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022,” the most recent of which took place in September.
Security forces arrested people in public places based solely on their gender expression and illegally searched their phones, the HRW report said, adding that as a requirement for their release, security forces ordered detained transgender women to attend to “conversion therapy sessions” at a government-sponsored “behavioral health care facility.”
HRW said it interviewed four transgender women, a bisexual woman and a gay man who described how members of Qatar’s Preventive Security Department detained them in an underground prison in Doha, where they were “verbally harassed” and subjected to “physical abuse, from slapping to kicking and punching to making them bleed.”
All were detained without charge, including one person who was held for two months in solitary confinement, and denied access to a lawyer, according to HRW. The six said police forced them to sign pledges stating that they would “cease immoral activity,” the organization added.
A Qatari official told CNN that HRW’s allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false.”
“The claims did not come to our attention until they were first reported in the media. Had Human Rights Watch contacted us, we would have been able to refute the allegations,” the official told CNN.
The official said the Qatari government does not operate or license any “conversion centers,” adding that the rehabilitation clinic mentioned in the report “supports people suffering from behavioral conditions such as substance dependence, eating disorders, and sexual disorders.” Mood”.
“We understand Human Rights Watch’s role in lobbying on these issues, but its decision to release demonstrably false information, without first contacting our government to verify the findings and better understand Qatar’s standard policies and procedures, compromises its self-proclaimed commitment to to report the truth,” the official said.
“Qatar does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, and our policies and procedures are underpinned by a commitment to human rights for all,” the official told CNN.
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.
Ahead of the World Cup, which begins Nov. 20, Qatar said it would welcome LGBT visitors after that community raised concerns about how safe they would be at the tournament.