London’s transport system does not allow advertising that “represents Qatar as a desirable destination” or encourages people to attend the World Cup, according to a 2019 policy in response to LGBTQ laws there.
Transport for London (TfL)’s stance reportedly angered Doha during the soccer tournament, and the Financial Times reported on Saturday that it is reviewing all investments in the UK capital.
Since 2019, ads referring to countries identified as having the death penalty for same-sex sexual acts are referred to TfL, which reviews their suitability to appear 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 organizations around the world that campaign for LGBTQ rights.
Qatar is among 11 states listed as having “actual” or “probable” death penalty policies for same-sex sexual acts, along with regional neighbors Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A TfL spokesman said any advertising campaigns that reference them “continue to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis” as a result.
It added that ahead of the World Cup, it provided ad partners and brands with “further guidance” on which ads are likely to be considered “acceptable to run during the tournament.”
“Advertising promoting Qatar travel, Qatar tourism or portraying Qatar as a desirable destination will not be considered acceptable at this time,” TfL noted.
“Advertising that promotes ticket sales, encourages people to attend matches in person, or encourages people to attend other events in Qatar will not be considered acceptable at this time.”
However, other ads displaying the official logo of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup or encouraging people to watch the matches on TV or streaming services are 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 seized some of Britain’s best-known sights and businesses, including the luxury department store Harrods and the capital’s Shard skyscraper.