Soccer-British LGBT activist urges captains to speak out in Qatar

Peter Tatchell protest for LGBTs rights in Doha

(Reuters) - British activist Peter Tatchell said he hopes team captains at this year's World Cup in Qatar will follow the example set by Australia and reaffirm the rights of LGBTs, women and migrant workers during the tournament.

Homosexuality is illegal in the conservative Muslim country, and some soccer players have raised concerns for fans travelling for the event, especially LGBT individuals and women.

Organisers of the World Cup, which starts on Nov. 20 and is the first in a Middle Eastern nation, say everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or background, is welcome, while also warning against public displays of affection.

On Thursday, Australia's national team spoke out against Qatar's record.

"Australian football stars are leading the way. They have set the gold standard," Tatchell, who was stopped by Qatari police on Tuesday for a one-man protest outside the national museum of the Gulf Arab state, told the BBC.

"I hope that every other national team will follow their lead and that all team captains will devote 30 seconds of every post-match news conference to affirm their commitment to the rights of LGBTs, women and migrant workers.

"That would be a fantastic, brilliant thing to do and I know it would be so appreciated by Qatari people, who are often privately and secretly hoping for a more democratic and human rights respecting government."

Human Rights Watch on Monday said security forces in Qatar arbitrarily arrested and abused LGBT Qataris as recently as last month.

But a Qatari official said those allegations were false.

World Cup organisers did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)