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Virgin scraps gender-neutral uniforms for England team flight to Qatar

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 16/11/2022 Josh Salisbury

Virgin Atlantic has suspended a policy allowing staff to wear gender neutral uniforms on the flight taking England to the World Cup in Qatar.

The policy, announced in September, allows staff the option of wearing whichever of the airline’s distinctive uniforms best “expresses how they identify or present themselves”.

But the airline said it was being suspended for the flight following a “risk assessment”, which considered “laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expressions of identity”.

The flight which England went to Qatar on had small rainbow mascot (Virgin Atlantic) © Provided by Evening Standard The flight which England went to Qatar on had small rainbow mascot (Virgin Atlantic)

Same-sex relations are punishable by prison sentences in Qatar, and even the death penalty.

A spokesperson for the airline told the BBC: “Initially the UK, US and Israel are the territories where the uniform policy is being rolled out for our people, as those countries are more accepting of non-binary identities allowing more self-expression.”

The spokesperson added that the decision was made to ensure the “security” of staff.

A statement originally announcing the policy did not make any reference to it only applying to certain countries which are more accepting of non-binary identities.

England’s men’s football team flew to Qatar on a ‘Gay Pride’ jet run by the airline in a gesture of solidarity with the LGBT community.

The ‘Rain Bow’ jet features a cartoon mascot Oscar who has rainbow-themed trainers and has the call sign ‘GV-PRD’, an abbreviation of “pride”.

Team captain Harry Kane will also wear a OneLove rainbow armband during the tournament as part of an anti-discrimination initiative.

The competition which begins November 20 has been dogged by controversy over Qatar’s human rights record.

Last week, ambassador for the tournament Khalid Salman described homosexuality as “damage in the mind” sparking fresh outcry.

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