International News Highlights — April 8, 2022

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Photo by Andrew Winning / Reuters
Photo by Andrew Winning / Reuters

United Kingdom: Parliament flip-flops on conversion therapy
Reuters reported on March 31 that the UK government walked back a plan to ban LGBT conversion therapy in the country, instead limiting the ban to therapy targeting Gay or Bisexual people in England and Wales, and leaving Transgender people out of it.

The decision was announced just hours after the government confirmed a report saying that it would not introduce such a ban, but a swift, angry response from LGBT groups and lawmakers seems to have changed their minds.

Reuters added that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has been under pressure to ban conversion therapy as part of a broader effort to eradicate "abhorrent practices which can cause mental and physical harm," as was intended by former leader Theresa May, and stated in last year's post-pandemic parliamentary agenda.

Qatar: Official says rainbow flags a threat to safety
NBC News reported on April 1 that a Qatar police official has said that fans at the World Cup could have any rainbow flags confiscated, to protect such fans from being attacked for promoting Gay rights. While the official went on to say that LGBTQ couples would be welcomed during the event, same-sex relations are criminalized in the country, carrying a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment.

Chris Paouros of the English Football Association's inclusion advisory board, who is also trustee with the antidiscrimination group Kick It Out, was skeptical. "This inconsistency and the continued lack of detail in terms of how [an inclusive tournament] will be provided beyond the rhetoric of 'everyone is welcome' is concerning, to say the least," he said.

FARE executive director Piara Powar said of the development, "The idea that the flag, which is now a recognized universal symbol of diversity and equality, will be removed from people to protect them will not be considered acceptable. I have been to Qatar on numerous occasions and do not expect the local Qatari population or fans visiting for the World Cup to be attacked for wearing the rainbow flag. The bigger danger comes from state actions."