Qatar Officials Seize 'Un-Islamic' Toys in Rainbow Colors

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday December 27, 2021

Officials in the anti-LGBTQ+ country Qatar — host to next year's World Cup — seized children's toys that happened to sport rainbow colors, calling them "un-Islamic," UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

Qatari authorities "confiscated a line of children's toys from stores" with the claim that the toys "go against Islamic values," another British newspaper, The Guardian, detailed.

The Qatari government trumpeted the seizure, with the "ministry of commerce and industry" taking to Twitter to slam the toys. The ministry included photos of some of the impounded merchandise, including "rubber stress balls and other toys in rainbow colors," The Guardian said.

The government's vague reasons did not spell out the fact that the confiscated property was colored in rainbow hues, but news outlets readily picked up on that fact.

In "a separate statement on the official QNA news agency," the ministry encouraged the people of Qatar "to report any product bearing logos or designs contrary to our traditions," The Guardian went on to add.

"Qatar's rights record has been under the spotlight ever since it was chosen as host of the 2022 World Cup in 2010, with the conditions of the tens of thousands of migrant laborers building the tournament's infrastructure a particular focus alongside LGBTQ rights," The Guardian noted.

Globally popular soccer great David Beckham, though a well-known LGBTQ+ ally, has drawn criticism for having "signed a deal worth £15million a year over the next decade to become the country's ambassador," a deal he evidently inked after being "assured fans would be safe and allowed to display rainbow flags in stadiums," UK newspaper The Sun reported.

The championship soccer event takes place once every four years, and brings national teams from around the globe together to vie for the status of the world's best.

Despite the prestige that comes with playing on a national team, the world's only openly gay, active premiere league soccer player — Australia's Josh Cavallo, who came out this past October — has said that he would be "scared" to play in Qatar, given the nation's harsh penalties against LGTBQ+ people — punishments that include death.

In response to Cavallo's comments, Nasser Al Khater, the chief executive of the event's organizing committee, says he'd be welcome in the deeply homophobic country, The Guardian reported.

"I've said this before and I say this to you again, everybody is welcome here," Al Khater insisted to CNN. "Qatar is a tolerant country. It's a welcoming country. It's a hospitable country."

What remains true, however, is that even "campaigning for LGBTQI+ rights in the country is outlawed," The Guardian noted in an earlier article.

"A 'danger index' compiled in 2019 to guide LGBT travelers rated Qatar as the second most dangerous place to travel for queer people," the newspaper said.

Al Khater downplayed the country's hostile laws, framing the issue as one of "modesty."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.