Gay rights groups condemn FIFA president Blatter's comments

Johannesburg - A leading international gay rights group has demanded an official apology from FIFA this week following President Sepp Blatter’s comments about sexual acts and gay fans traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
The president of the world soccer governing body, Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, said Monday, when questioned about the safety of fans attending the event, that homosexual fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" during the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexual behavior is illegal, reported ESPN.Juris Lavrikovs, communications director for the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, said the comments were "very unfortunate and have left people deeply offended."Since Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, Human Rights Organizations have argued that FIFA shouldn't reward a country with laws that deny basic human rights and condemn homosexuality making it illegal, by giving them a World Cup event. Their position is that this could put any homosexual fans in danger if they attend the World Cup.Apart from the searing temperatures expected during the finals time of June and July, there could also be other problems with hosting the competition in an Islamic country. Current laws mean drinking alcohol in public is forbidden, while bars and nightclubs are almost non-existent in the middle east.Blatter insisted even if there are problems, there is still plenty of time to sort out any issues. "I think there is too much concern for a competition that will be done only in 12 years," the Guardian reported.Blatter's insensitive attempt at humor isn't being taken lightly by prominent Gay Rights leaders and activists."I think they should come out with a strong statement and not just wash it away," Lavrikovs told The Associated Press. "We are talking about a very basic human right that is being violated.""Sepp Blatter jokes about the risk to gay visitors in 2022, but Qatar's anti-gay policies are no laughing matter," British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said.Blatter's comments have been heavily criticised by the former basketball player John Amaechi, who revealed that he was gay in 2007 – the first NBA star to do so. "The position adopted regarding LGBT [Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender] fans who would pay the enormous ticket and travel prices to attend the World Cup in 2022 should have been wholly unacceptable a decade ago," the US-based Englishman said, according to the UK Guardian."Instead, with little more than an afterthought Fifa has endorsed the marginalisation of LGBT people around the world. Anything less than a full reversal of his position is unacceptable and if the FA and football and sporting associations around the world fail to acknowledge this insult, they too will be complicit."Anything less than a full reversal of his position is unacceptable," he said.

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