Virgin Atlantic suspends gender-neutral uniform policy for World Cup flight from England to Qatar | UK News

Virgin Atlantic has suspended a policy allowing its crew to choose gender-neutral uniforms on its flight taking England’s World Cup soccer team to Qatar.

The airline said the decision followed a “risk assessment … taking into account laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expressions of identity”.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Islamic Sharia, and the conservative country’s treatment of LGBTQ+ tourists attending the tournament has raised concerns.

England World Cup The team left their headquarters at St George’s Park to travel to Qatar on Tuesday.

Their flight from Birmingham is believed to be on an Airbus A350 called ‘Rain Bow’ – a symbol of LGBT+ pride.

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Virgin Atlantic plane at Birmingham Airport takes England’s World Cup squad to Qatar

In a statement, Virgin Atlantic said: “We are proud that our gender identity policy allows our employees to express themselves through uniform choice.

“Following a risk assessment, it has been recommended that the policy not be enforced on today’s charter flight to ensure the safety of our staff.”

Virgin Atlantic introduced a “fluid” approach in September, allowing staff to wear their red or burgundy uniforms depending on “how they identify or present themselves”.

A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350, with Rain Bow before departure at Birmingham Airport.  The plane called
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A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 with Rain Bow at Birmingham Airport

A World Cup ambassador in Qatar recently described homosexuality as “a damage to the spirit”. Khalid Salman told a German public broadcaster that being gay was “haram”, which means forbidden in Arabic.

England skipper Harry Kane is one of several national captains who plan to take part in the ‘OneLove’ campaign during the tournament. Players will wear a rainbow colored armband to campaign against discrimination.

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Wales also made the trip to Qatar on Tuesday for the country’s first appearance at the tournament in 64 years.

Wales' Matthew Smith departing for Qatar from Cardiff Airport, Wales.  Picture date: Tuesday November 15, 2022.
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Wales players arrive at Cardiff Airport

Jets of water were thrown at the Wales team plane as it took off from Cardiff Airport.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Wales depart for Qatar - Cardiff Airport, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - November 15, 2022 An arc of water washes over the flight of the Wales squad as they depart for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022 Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
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An arc of water passes over the Wales squad flight as they depart for the World Cup

Wales and England are in the same group for the tournament and will play each other in two weeks.

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