Qatari security forces arbitrarily arrested and abused LGBT Qataris just last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

The report comes just weeks before the Gulf Arab state is to host the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022.

HRW said it interviewed six LGBT Qataris, including four transgender women, a bisexual woman and a gay man, who said they were detained between 2019 and 2022.

They said they were held without charge in an underground prison in Doha and were subjected to verbal and physical abuse, including kicking and punching.

One person said they had been held for two months in solitary confinement.

“All six said the police forced them to sign pledges that they would ‘cease all immoral activity,'” HRW said.

The group added that transgender inmates were forced to attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored clinic.

One of the Qatari transgender women interviewed by HRW told Reuters news agency that she had been arrested several times, most recently this summer when she was detained for several weeks.

Authorities arrested her because of her appearance or because she was wearing makeup, the woman said, adding that she was beaten until she bled and had her head shaved.

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A Qatari official said in a statement that HRW’s allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false”.

He added: “Qatar does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, and our policies and procedures are underpinned by a commitment to human rights for all.

“The Qatari government does not operate or license any ‘conversion centres’.

“The rehabilitation clinic mentioned in the report supports people with behavioral disorders such as substance abuse, eating disorders and mood disorders, and operates in accordance with the highest international medical standards.”

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Homosexuality is illegal in the conservative Muslim country, and some football stars have raised concerns about the rights of fans traveling to the event.

Organizers of the World Cup, which begins on November 20 and is the first to be held in a Middle Eastern country, say everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or background, is welcome, while emphasizing guard against public displays of affection.

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