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Legal framework

This section lists Qatar's protected characteristics.

The Constitution of Qatar (Arabic: دستو قطر‎ Dastūr Qatar) is the supreme law of the State of Qatar. It came into effect on 9 April 2004. The constitution was overwhelmingly approved, with almost 98% in favour. The Constitution is split into five main sections with no preamble to the constitution.  In Section, Article 1 very clearly states that the country’s religion is Islam and sharia law is the main source for its legislation.  In Article 8, the rule of the state is hereditary, highlighting the male dominance and line of inheritance.  In Section 2, Article 18, it states that the “Qatari society” is based on the values of justice, benevolence, freedom, equality and high morals.  Article 19, states that there should be “equal opportunities” for all citizens.  In Article 21, family is the basis of society – founded on religion, ethics and patriotism – the law shall regulate adequate means to protect the family, support its structure and protect maternity, childhood and old age.  In Article 22, the State shall provide for the young, and protect the same from corruption, exploitation and evils of physical, mental and spiritual neglect.  In Section 3, Article 34 states that all citizens of Qatar shall be equal in public rights and duties.  Article 35, states that “all persons are equal before the law and there shall be no discrimination whatsoever on ground of sex (gender), race, language or religion.  In Article 50, freedom to practice religions rites shall be guaranteed to all persons in accordance with the law. 

http://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/qa/qa009en.pdf

As same-sex couples are not permitted, no joint adoption or step-child adoption is allowed as their relationships are seen as illegal. 

Age is not specifically mentioned as a protected characteristic in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination. However, there is reference in Article 2, which mentions the means to protect the family, and specifically protect maternity, childhood and old age, pointing out the two extremes. 

There is no age of consent for same-sex couples as any activity is viewed as illegal. 

If Qatar were to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and establish an asylum procedure, it would allow the government to review asylum claims in a disciplined and orderly fashion, and provide asylum – and rights, not just mercy – to those who are deemed eligible. And no one would be in a position to criticize Qatar for doing what so many other countries have done in providing political asylum to today’s “undesirables,” within its obligations under international law.  Some Qatari officials expressed concern that joining the Refugee Convention would open Qatar to a flood of refugees from around the world, but the reality is that Qatar’s geographic location makes that extremely impractical. Those who would benefit are the refugees and asylum seekers Qatar is already sheltering, but in a fashion that would entitle them to travel and receive basic protections.

Qatar would once again also chart a path of progress for the Arab world, where many states have failed to ratify the Refugee Convention and establish asylum procedures. While Gulf States have been generous in signing checks to support Jordan and Lebanon’s hosting of Syrian refugees and generally allowed Syrians in their countries to remain indefinitely, the lack of asylum procedures precludes them from recognizing them as refugees with the legal protections such status affords. Qatar can show the Arab world that it can do better.  Finally, Qatar should move urgently to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Joining these treaties is not just the morally sound thing to do. The protections they offer at this critical juncture are not hypothetical. They could provide an important shield of deterrence against Qatar’s neighbours, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE, should they ever consider mimicking the unlawful military tactics they have carried out in Yemen.  We know that the Saudi-led coalition, of which Qatar was a part only a few weeks ago, has repeatedly bombed Yemeni schools, hospitals, markets and homes. We’ve documented 81 apparently unlawful coalition attacks, some of which most likely amount to war crimes that could fall under the ICC’s prosecutor’s scrutiny were Yemen a member of the court. We know that the Saudi-led coalition has littered Yemen with cluster munitions, with unexploded sub-munitions that unless cleared will leave a legacy of contamination in the country for generations to come. Perhaps the Saudis and the Emiratis would think twice about using such heinous tactics in Qatar should the current political conflict ever deteriorate into a military one.

Perhaps they will pause before they deploy cluster bombs along the Qatari border, knowing that the strong weight of the international community, including the targeted state, deems their use de facto unlawful; perhaps the risk of facing war crimes charges could make them think twice before engaging in any potential war crimes such as launching strikes on Al Jazeera’s headquarters, which some commentators have repeatedly encouraged them to target.

These are not just sound policies that stand to benefit Qatari women and families, those who have fled violence and persecution in neighbouring countries, and Qatari civilians.

These are not just policies that will benefit the reputation of Qatar as a state committed to upholding its human rights obligations and a leader in the Arab world. They are policies that will resound to the benefit of all of humanity, and pave a path for a more peaceful, rights-respecting region.

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/03/qatar-gulf-crisis-human-rights-opportunity

Men who sleep with men (MSM) are illegal and therefore any activities means no donation of blood is permitted. 

There is no recognition of civil partnerships or civil unions between same-sex couples as any activity is illegal in Qatar. 

Qatar has ratified international conventions on torture, racial discrimination and discrimination against women and children. There are no anti-discrimination laws in employment, provision of goods and services or other areas like hate speech for LGBT people, as they are seen as illegal and therefore there are no protections. 

Qatari Law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. The law requires that 2% of all jobs in government agencies and public institutions be set aside for disabled persons. Private businesses employing a minimum of 25 staff are also required to hire persons with disabilities.  The number of individuals with disabilities in Qatar makes up less than 0.50% of the total population. Qataris with disabilities exceed the number of non-Qataris due to the fact that most expatriate workers are medically fit.  A higher percentage of men is recorded as persons with disabilities than women. Congenital factors and disease are the most common causes for disabilities. Qatar makes its top priority the empowerment of persons with disabilities in the country, through creating special programs that cater to their needs, protect their rights, and provide them with equal opportunities, which goes in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.  Being at the forefront of the countries signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008, Qatar has been working relentlessly on developing various projects that are being regularly monitored to further enhance the quality of services offered to disabled individuals to help them reach their full potential. These services include “Order” service, Emergency Service for the Deaf, and Social Assistance Allowance for the Persons with Disabilities.  As Qatar believes in the importance of information and communication technology in empowering and enabling people with disabilities, Qatar Assistive Technology Center (Mada) was founded for this purpose, catering to all four forms of disabilities; hearing, visual, physical, and learning.  On the other hand, the civil society in Qatar plays a key role in serving disabled individuals, which is a fact supported by Shafallah Institute that has been established to provide specialized services to people with disabilities, in terms of education, social life, healthcare, and counselling, in addition to organizing various events that seek to raise public awareness about the issues related to persons with disabilities.  Moreover, Qatar Society for Rehabilitation of Special Needs strives to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in Qatar on all levels; social, psychological, academic, and health, in a way that matches the Islamic religion’s values and the Qatari traditions, while considering the new technological advances that in turn impact the services provided.

 

http://portal.www.gov.qa/wps/portal/topics/Persons+with+Disabilities

 

http://www.hukoomi.qa/wps/portal/topics/Religion+and+Community/Persons+with+Disability

Qatar has no law specifically criminalising domestic violence and the current government publishes no data on incidents of such violence. 

Since 2015, Qatar introduced new labour law No 21 which came into force on the 14th December 2016.  The new Labour Law has replaced the existing Kafala system which had previously governed employment law.  The new regulations are aimed at making it easier for migrant workers to change jobs, as nearly 90% of the population are non-Qatari nationals, so protecting rights of expatriate workers in Qatar. 

https://beoe.gov.pk/files/legal-framework/labor-laws/State-of-Qatar-Labor-Law.pdf

Faith or Belief in Islam is a protected characteristic and mentioned in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination.

Gender is a protected characteristic and mentioned in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination.  Gender equality and women’ rights are influenced a lot by the interpretation of the Wahhabi law of Islam. Both men and women were enfranchised in the country at the same time in 1999.  The percentage of women in Qatar is above the world average and among the highest in the Arab world.  There is limited mixing between the sexes and Qatari women in public are largely expected to wear traditional clothing which typically consists of an abaya and Shayla, both of which partially conceal their appearance.  In 2001, Qatar passed the Civil Service Act and Order No.13 of the Council of Ministers, thereby creating a legal framework protecting women’s rights in the workforce. A further law was passed in 2002 which allowed women retirement benefits as well as granting monetary benefits to widows.  Qatar has the highest female labour force participation rate  in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).  The largest obstacles to employment are family obligations, a low number of job openings and inadequate proficiency in English.  Societal views also negatively influenced the job opportunities for women, as certain conservative segments of the population consider it improper for women to work in the hospitality industry, as hotel workers and as actresses.  Qatari women do not have the same rights as Qatari men to obtain nationality for their spouses and children.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/09/11/qatars-permanent-residency-law-step-forward-discrimination-remains

There is no recognition of transgender identities which would be seen in the same view of homosexuality. There is no right to change legal gender

Qatar is one of five countries that restricts people living with HIV/Aids from its residency rules. Along with other GCC neighbours, Qatar has strict regulations and therefore migrants planning to come to work in a Gulf country have to undergo blood screening for infectious diseases such as HIV and Tuberculosis.  Those testing positive are typically refused entry if it is part of the pre-screening process, and in the past have been sent home if they are already in the country.

Qatar also tests pregnant women, drug users when they come for consultation, couples who are planning to marry and students looking to study abroad. Health workers are checked annually.

 

https://dohanews.co/sch-qatar-residents-diagnosed-hiv-increases-10-year-high/

 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/qatar/8932093/Journalist-tested-for-HIV-without-knowledge-as-he-moved-to-Qatar.html

Language is a protected characteristic and mentioned in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination. 

 

Muslim marriages are performed at the Sharia Court. You must provide two witnesses for the marriage. Qatari men who wish to marry non-Qatari women are required to receive permission from the Marriages Committee. There is no civil marriage for non-Muslims. Some embassies and churches can perform marriages for non-Qataris. Premarital health screenings are required for all couples planning to get married in Qatar. Qataris must also attend a series of pre-marriage counselling and education programs on the obligations of marriage and importance of family formation in order to receive the state-granted Marriage Fund.  Marriage is strictly ruled by the laws laid down in Sharia, and there is no recognition of same-sex marriage as this is illegal as are people who identify as LGBT.  While many unmarried couples do live together in Qatar, this is technically against the law as it is a Muslim country. Men and women are not permitted to share a home unless they are legally married or are related to each other. This applies to friends, house or flat mates as well as couples.

 

https://www.expatwoman.com/qatar/guide/living-together-while-unmarried-in-qatar

In Part Nine of the new Labour Law – Article 96, specifically entitled Employment of Women, a female worker who has been employed by an employer for a complete year shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of fifty days. Such maternity leave shall include the period before and after the delivery provided that the period following the delivery shall not be less than thirty five days.  This leave shall be granted subject to a medical certificate issued by a licensed physician stating the probable day of delivery.

No LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the military. 

There is provision for only one or two days leave for fathers in the Labour Law. 

The constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and association, but national legislation severely limits these rights in practice.  Law No.18 of 2004 requires organisers of public gatherings to obtain the express permission of the director of public security of the Ministry of the Interior. 

https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/MENA_2013_September_Qatar%27s%20human%20rights%20record.pdf

Race is a protected characteristic and mentioned in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination. 

If Qatar were to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and establish an asylum procedure, it would allow the government to review asylum claims in a disciplined and orderly fashion, and provide asylum – and rights, not just mercy – to those who are deemed eligible. And no one would be in a position to criticize Qatar for doing what so many other countries have done in providing political asylum to today’s “undesirables,” within its obligations under international law.  Some Qatari officials expressed concern that joining the Refugee Convention would open Qatar to a flood of refugees from around the world, but the reality is that Qatar’s geographic location makes that extremely impractical. Those who would benefit are the refugees and asylum seekers Qatar is already sheltering, but in a fashion that would entitle them to travel and receive basic protections.  Qatar would once again also chart a path of progress for the Arab world, where many states have failed to ratify the Refugee Convention and establish asylum procedures. While Gulf States have been generous in signing checks to support Jordan and Lebanon’s hosting of Syrian refugees and generally allowed Syrians in their countries to remain indefinitely, the lack of asylum procedures precludes them from recognizing them as refugees with the legal protections such status affords. Qatar can show the Arab world that it can do better.  Finally, Qatar should move urgently to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Joining these treaties is not just the morally sound thing to do. The protections they offer at this critical juncture are not hypothetical. They could provide an important shield of deterrence against Qatar’s neighbours, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE, should they ever consider mimicking the unlawful military tactics they have carried out in Yemen.  We know that the Saudi-led coalition, of which Qatar was a part only a few weeks ago, has repeatedly bombed Yemeni schools, hospitals, markets and homes. We’ve documented 81 apparently unlawful coalition attacks, some of which most likely amount to war crimes that could fall under the ICC’s prosecutor’s scrutiny were Yemen a member of the court. We know that the Saudi-led coalition has littered Yemen with cluster munitions, with unexploded sub-munitions that unless cleared will leave a legacy of contamination in the country for generations to come. Perhaps the Saudis and the Emiratis would think twice about using such heinous tactics in Qatar should the current political conflict ever deteriorate into a military one.  Perhaps they will pause before they deploy cluster bombs along the Qatari border, knowing that the strong weight of the international community, including the targeted state, deems their use de facto unlawful; perhaps the risk of facing war crimes charges could make them think twice before engaging in any potential war crimes such as launching strikes on Al Jazeera’s headquarters, which some commentators have repeatedly encouraged them to target.  These are not just sound policies that stand to benefit Qatari women and families, those who have fled violence and persecution in neighbouring countries, and Qatari civilians.  These are not just policies that will benefit the reputation of Qatar as a state committed to upholding its human rights obligations and a leader in the Arab world. They are policies that will resound to the benefit of all of humanity, and pave a path for a more peaceful, rights-respecting region.

 

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/08/03/qatar-gulf-crisis-human-rights-opportunity

Religion is a protected characteristic and mentioned in Article 35 of the Constitution and therefore grounds for protection against discrimination. 

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and since 2004 Article 296 of the current Penal Law (Law11/2004) stipulates imprisonment between 1 and 3 years for sodomy between men.  This is a slight revision to the original law that stipulated up to five years imprisonment. 

https://dohanews.co/not-tolerate-homosexuality-qatar/

Commercial surrogacy is illegal for all couples regardless of their sexual orientation and there is no access to IVF treatment for Lesbians. 

Law No. 12 of 2004 grants citizens the right to establish private societies and professional associations, but the process is slow and prohibitively expensive, and permits have to be renewed every three years.  The Law prohibits such associations from engaging in political matters. Qataris can form trade unions – but non-citizen employees (i.e. migrant workers) cannot – but because of the Authorities allocation of public sector jobs and housing to Qataris mean that there is little if any interest among Qataris in establishing a trade union. 

https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/MENA_2013_September_Qatar%27s%20human%20rights%20record.pdf