NationalNews

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

The airline said the decision followed a "risk assessment… considering laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expressions of identity".

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Islamic Sharia law, and there have been concerns about the conservative country’s treatment of LGBTQ+ tourists attending the tournament.

England’s World Cup squad left their St George’s Park HQ to set off for Qatar on Tuesday.

Their flight from Birmingham was believed to be on an Airbus A350 plane called "Rain Bow" – a symbol of LGBT+ pride.

In a statement, Virgin Atlantic said "We’re proud our leading Gender Identity Policy allows our people to express themselves through uniform choice.

"Following a risk assessment, it was recommended the policy was not applied on today’s charter flight to ensure the safety of our people."

Virgin Atlantic introduced a "fluid" approach in September, allowing staff the option of wearing its red or burgundy uniforms based on "how they identify or present themselves".

An ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar recently described homosexuality as "damage in the mind". 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 participate in the "OneLove" campaign during the tournament. Players will wear a rainbow-coloured armband to campaign against discrimination.

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

Jets of water were squirted over the Wales team’s plane as it departed from Cardiff Airport.

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

© Sky News 2022