Openly gay UK sports minister Stuart Andrew defiantly wears the OneLove armband as he watches the Battle of Britain from the stands in Qatar – despite hosts’ crackdown on fans in rainbow gear

  • Sports Minister Stuart Andrew, who is openly gay, is wearing OneLove armband
  • Mr Andrew vowed to take a stand against Qatar’s divisive homosexuality laws
  • He seriously considered boycotting the competition but felt a duty to attend
  • He was pictured alongside economy minister Vaughan Gething and David Davies
  • Click here to follow Sportsmail’s live blog for the World Cup Group B clash 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

The UK’s sports minister Stuart Andrew, who is openly gay, is wearing the OneLove armband for the highly anticipated Battle of Britain World Cup match this evening.

Mr Andrew was pictured in the stands of Qatar’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium alongside Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething and Secretary David Davies on Tuesday night as the game got underway.

Wearing a rainbow tie, his armband and his identifying documentation on a lanyard, Mr Andrew jumped to his feet and clapped in a box at the stadium.

Earlier, he said he felt it was his duty to take a stand against Qatar’s homosexuality laws, but seriously considered boycotting the tournament.

He said: ‘These games should be a celebration show and for all football fans to enjoy. But sadly so many of them are feeling that these are not.

Wearing a rainbow tie, his armband and his identifying documentation on a lanyard, Mr Andrew jumped to his feet and clapped in a box at the stadium

Mr Andrew was pictured alongside Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething (left) and Secretary David Davies (centre) on Tuesday night as the game got underway

‘This is not a tournament for them. I met with LGBT football supporters, and it was really distressing to see actually how emotional they got that they couldn’t be. They didn’t feel they could be part of this and that is not acceptable.’

Mr Andrew told the Evening Standard he felt he had a ‘responsibility’ to attend, but would not pander to the nation’s divisive views.

His stance appears at odds with that of Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who was strongly criticised last month for urging gay fans to show a ‘little bit of flex and compromise’ and to ‘respect the culture of your host nation’. 

Mr Gething, who is in Qatar promoting Wales and its business interests at the World Cup, wore a rainbow lanyard as a show of support.

He earlier said: ‘I’m often seen walking around the Senedd wearing this badge or my lanyard, it’s a regular feature. And for me it’s about allyship.

Mr Andrew said he felt he had a ‘responsibility’ to attend, but would not pander to the nation’s divisive views

Earlier, he said he felt it was his duty to take a stand against Qatar’s homosexuality laws, but seriously considered boycotting the tournament

‘Stuart Andrew needs to make his own choices, and he’s in a different position, this is very personal for him and I understand that.

‘So I’m not going to criticise him for the choices he makes. We will carry on doing what we’ve done, as I say being positive and promoting Wales and our values.’

Mr Gething was at an event at Katara Cultural Village in Doha on Monday, to see a mural created by Welsh artists there, wearing a rainbow flag badge.

Welsh Secretary David Davies stood between the other two men, wearing a bucket hat and ‘proudly’ supporting Wales in the match. 

The image of Mr Andrew and Mr Gething so openly defying calls to maintain neutrality come after it was revealed fans were having their flags checked before entering Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.

The image of Mr Andrew and Mr Gething so openly defying calls to maintain neutrality come after it was revealed fans were having their flags checked before entering Ahmed bin Ali Stadium

Wearing a rainbow tie, his armband and his identifying documentation on a lanyard, Mr Andrew jumped to his feet and clapped in a box at the stadium

England and Wales line up before the start of this evening’s Group B match, which has been dubbed ‘the Battle of Britain’ 

Security were reportedly taking photos and waiting for approval – after a supporter invaded the pitch with a rainbow flag during a game last night.

Pictures were taken of each flag and sent to a security manager on WhatsApp before a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ was given.

The checks were causing minor delays to some supporters entering the stadium before kick-off.

Elsewhere, a USA fan raising his arm while wearing a Rainbow armband was escorted from the Al Thumama Stadium ahead of their match against Iran.

Meanwhile Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was pictured watching the match from the New Bloomsbury Set cocktail bar on Tuesday evening.

Mr Starmer did not dress up as so many other fans have – wearing face paint, masks and draping themselves in flags in anticipation of the match.

Generous bosses had allowed staff to be flexible in the hours running up to the much-anticipated clash in Qatar, with some even offering to provide a £25 bar tab for drinks and food, and paracetamol for the inevitable sore heads tomorrow morning. 

Downing Street said Rishi Sunak would be supporting England, but hoped both teams could advance ‘as far as possible’ in the competition.

The Three Lions currently top the group and need just a point to guarantee their progress to the knockout stages, while Wales must win and hope for a favourable result between Iran and the USA.

Meanwhile Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was pictured watching the match from the New Bloomsbury Set cocktail bar on Tuesday evening

Chants of ‘Wales, Wales’ were soon met with the response of ‘World Cup winners, you’ll never sing that’ as fans gradually made their way into the stadium

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