London’s transport system is not allowing advertising that “portrays Qatar as a desirable destination” or encourages people to attend the World Cup, under a 2019 policy response to LGBTQ laws there.
The stance by Transport for London (TfL) has reportedly angered Doha during its hosting of the football tournament, with the Financial Times reporting Saturday that it is reviewing all investments in the UK capital.
Since 2019, adverts that reference countries identified as having the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts are referred to TfL, which reviews their suitability to feature on trains, buses, and other sites.
It uses a list of countries compiled by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA), a federation of more than 1,700 organisations worldwide campaigning for LGBTQ rights.
Qatar is among 11 states listed as having “effective” or “probable” death penalty policies for same-sex sexual acts, alongside regional neighbours Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A TfL spokesperson said as a result any advertising campaign referencing them “continues to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis”.
She added that ahead of the World Cup it provided advertising partners and brands with “further guidance” on ads likely to be deemed “acceptable to run during the tournament”.
“Advertising which promotes travel to Qatar, tourism in Qatar, or portrays Qatar as a desirable destination will not be considered acceptable at this time,” TfL noted.
“Advertising which promotes ticket sales, encourages people to attend the matches in person, or encourages people to attend other events in Qatar will not be considered acceptable at this time.”
However, other ads featuring the official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo or encouraging people to watch the matches on TV or streaming services were likely to be considered acceptable, it added.
The Financial Times said the policy had prompted Qatar — one of the biggest investors in London through the emirate’s vast sovereign wealth fund — to launch a review of its investments there.
The Qatar Investment Authority has spent lavishly and snapped up some of Britain’s best-known landmarks and businesses, including the luxury store Harrods and the capital’s Shard skyscraper.