World Cup 2022: Brazilian journalist has phone seized by Qatar police after regional flag mistaken for LGBTQ banner

A journalist reporting on the World Cup in Qatar claims local police hassled him outside a stadium after mistaking his regional Brazilian flag for an LGBTQ pride banner.

Victor Pereira said his phone was seized by authorities after he used it to film a man’s negative reaction to the colourful flag of Brazil’s northeastern Pernambuco state.

The flag depicts a rainbow in the colours red, yellow and green, a red cross and a star.

He said a man wearing a traditional white dress mistook it for the LGBTQ community’s rainbow flag when he was leaving the Lusail Stadium following Saudi Arabia’s shock 2-1 win over Argentina on Tuesday.

Same-sex relationships are illegal in the Gulf state but the host nation’s organisers had repeatedly said “all are welcome” at the sporting event.

“This guy wearing a white dress grabbed the flag, threw it on the ground and started stomping on it. I took my phone to record a video but he grabbed it from my hand and said he would only give it back if I deleted the video,” Mr Pereira said.

“Then an officer arrived and tried to intervene. He grabbed the phone from the other guy and ordered me to delete the video.”

Mr Pereira said he obeyed and deleted the clip so that he could get his phone back.

He uploaded his account of the incident on Twitter.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar’s World Cup organisers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Qatari government’s media office.

Former Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is draped in the Pernambuco flag during a rally in 2019
Former Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is draped in the Pernambuco flag during a rally in 2019

Pernambuco’s governor Paulo Camara tweeted about the incident shortly after.

He said: “Our solidarity with the Pernambuco journalist Victor Pereira. Victor is covering the Qatar Cup and had the flag of Pernambuco that he carried seized by the authorities of that country.”

Elsewhere, an American journalist said he was briefly detained on Monday after attempting to enter a World Cup stadium in Qatar while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community. He also claimed his phone was seized.

And some Wales supporters in Qatar on Monday said their rainbow bucket hats were confiscated, prompting Downing Street to say it was closely monitoring the treatment of UK fans in the country.

Read more: What are Qatar’s homosexuality laws?

Some have claimed they were told it was a “banned symbol” despite FIFA saying rainbow-coloured flags and clothing were allowed in the stadiums.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously it’s not the approach that this Government would take if we were hosting any tournament.

“LGBT rights are a fundamental part of the United Kingdom.

“We have raised concerns about LGBT visitors with the Qatari authorities at all levels leading up to the tournament and obviously we will continue to monitor it carefully.”

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