Virgin Atlantic has suspended a policy allowing its crew to choose gender-neutral uniforms on their flight taking England’s World Cup soccer team to Qatar.
The airline said the decision was due to a “risk assessment… taking into account laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expression of identity.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Islamic Sharia law and there have been concerns about the conservative country’s treatment of LGBTQ+ tourists attending the tournament.
England’s World Cup The squad left their headquarters in St George’s Park on Tuesday for Qatar.
Her flight from Birmingham was believed to be in an Airbus A350 dubbed the “Rain Bow” – a symbol of LGBT+ pride.
In a statement, Virgin Atlantic said: “We are proud that our leading gender identity policy allows our employees to express themselves through consistent choices.
“Following a risk assessment, it was recommended not to apply the policy on today’s charter flight to ensure the safety of our employees.”
Virgin Atlantic introduced a “flowing” approach in September, giving staff the option of wearing their red or burgundy uniforms depending on “how they identify or present themselves”.
Recently an ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar described homosexuality as “damage to the spirit”. Khalid Salman told a German public broadcaster that being gay is “haram,” which means “forbidden” in Arabic.
England skipper Harry Kane is one of several national captains planning to take part in the ‘OneLove’ campaign during the tournament. Players will wear a rainbow colored armband to speak out against discrimination.
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Wales also traveled to Qatar on Tuesday for their first appearance at the tournament in 64 years.
Jets of water were sprayed over the Wales team’s plane as it took off from Cardiff Airport.
Wales and England are in the same group for the tournament and will face off in two weeks time.