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Dozens of UK bars are boycotting World Cup in protest at Qatar's human rights record

Dozens of UK bars are refusing to show World Cup matches - in protest at Qatar's appalling human rights record and hardline same sex relationships stance.

The tournament, which kicks off on Sunday, has been shrouded in controversy ever since the tiny gulf nation won the right to host the blue chip event 12 years ago.

The oil-rich state, which has no longstanding footballing tradition, has spent tens of billions of pounds creating seven new stadiums for hundreds of thousands of spectators.

But in the run-up to the competition, fans have questioned whether they should even watch games.

Qatar has laws banning same-sex relationships, and those found guilty can face the death sentence or lengthy spells in jail.

And now pubs and clubs all over Britain, which pride themselves on providing “safe spaces” for all sexual orientations, are choosing to turn off TVs showing live coverage.

John Sizzle, 54, co-owner of London-based bar The Glory, said: “It’s disappointing that human rights haven’t been considered when putting on an event as big as this one.

"It is extremely problematic. We showed the women’s Euros here because that was really celebratory, but we wouldn’t want to make money from this World Cup.

“Of course we will listen to our customers and if there is demand for it and it’s a celebration then we will put it on but, based on what I’ve seen so far, there won’t be interest."

He added: “Unless the English team somehow makes some sort of statement about why they’re there, and if they publicly support queer rights and that sort of thing and try and make a change by being there then maybe we will watch it.

“Football already has a bad reputation when it comes to problematic behaviour and lack of out gay players. So for us football is tricky, it’s a lot more than just where it’s held and the politics of the country it’s about the whole element of the sport as a whole – it is due reform.”

The Key Club music venue, in Leeds, West Yorks., said it wouldn’t show games in response to Qatar’s “ongoing human rights and LGBTQ+ issues”.

A spokesperson said: “We have decided to cancel the upcoming England matches which we had planned to show at The Key Club.

“We wanted to create a safe space where people felt comfortable watching the football.

"However, after careful deliberation and upon further research, we now understand it is best to cancel the upcoming events in response to the ongoing human rights and LGBTQ+ issues surrounding the hoist nation.

“The Key Club is committed to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space and so we hope you all stand by our decision.

“As an additional mark of our support we will be collecting donations for LGBTQ+ charities at upcoming events at The Key Club.”

The managers of the Mustard Pot, in Leeds, also decided to abort their screenings on Monday after they'd sold special tickets for the matches days earlier.

Landlady Nicola Moxham, 43, admitted she'd done a "U-turn" and issued refunds when punters had begun to raise problems with the tournament.

She said: “We always show the big football matches, we always show the World Cup.

“Then we got a few comments off our regulars, just being quite honest, not attacking me, saying ‘Have you thought about the moral repercussions of showing this?'

“I hadn’t at that point, and then I started to look into it a bit more and realised it is distressing for a lot of people, and it’s not the right thing for us to be showing it.

“So we’ve had a U-turn and we’re no longer showing it.”

She added: “The conversations were about its terrible human rights and it’s homophobia and that it kills people, and all the horrific things we are now seeing.

“Our clientele it suits because they are quite politically aware. For other people, everything counts on the World Cup, it’s the biggest sporting event for their business.”

The Liverpool Arms in Chester announced that it wouldn’t be showing live matches due to the host nation’s “lack of LGBTQ+ rights”.

A spokesperson said: “After prolonged soul searching, The Liverpool Arms has decided it will not show any matches from The FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar.

“As Chester's LGBTQ+ bar, we are deeply concerned about the host nation's lack of LGBTQ+ rights which are well documented.

“We will not promote this event. However, we wish England and Wales every success in the tournament.”

The Commercial Hotel and Bar, also in Chester, has also decided not to show the World Cup, saying it couldn't support Qatar’s “anti-LGBTQ+ laws”.

A spokesperson said: “We will never support any country nor links with such prejudice and ideas.”

Lawrence Barton, director of Birmingham Pride, said none of his three venues in the city would be showing the World Cup coverage this year.

And in Greenwich, London, The George and Dragon pub also said it would refuse to put the live football action on.

Some punters applauded the pubs for taking such a strict stand against Qatar’s human rights record.

One wrote on social media: “Well done on taking a stand.

"I'm increasingly disheartened that we feel able to 'take the good and discount the bad' in all sorts of situations.

“To hide behind 'it's complicated' is how so much wrong has slipped in under the radar.

It feels increasingly right to boycott when discrimination and harm are the 'bads'.”

Another added: “Wow, I'll make a point of coming in for a drink! Very impressed!”

But others looking forward to catching games at their local boozer voiced anger that their pub wouldn’t be showing the football coverage.

One wrote: “Bizarre thing to do. I can bet the people complaining it shouldn't be on are also those who queue in single file at the bar."

Another said: “People were offended that you were showing the country’s football team compete in the World Cup?

“I thinks it’s fair to say neither yourselves, the players or the people of this country made the decision to host it there!”

The London Hotel in Southampton is also wary of the tournament.

A spokesperson said: “We will only show some games if our customers want to see it, but we’re not advertising it.

“Personally, I wouldn’t want to support the event because of Qatar’s view on LGBTQI+ views.”