England’s World Cup squad has flown out to Qatar on a Virgin Atlantic plane featuring its LGBTQ+ icon, but crew were told not to wear gender-neutral uniform.
The team departed Birmingham Airport on Tuesday morning on a Virgin flight called ‘Rain Bow’, signifying their support for inclusivity and equal rights.
However, it emerged the airline’s recently introduced policy, allowing cabin crew to choose which uniform best suits their individuality, did not apply to the flight. Instead, crew wore traditional uniform.
Virgin said the decision was made ‘for the safety of our people’.
Virgin told the BBC the gender-neutral policy is initially being rolled out only in the UK, US and Israel because those countries are more accepting of non-binary identities.
The airline, which does not operate a scheduled service to Qatar, explained it completed a risk assessment of all destinations, considering the laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expressions of identity.
Virgin said in a statement: “The safety and security of our people and customers is always our top priority.
“We’re proud our leading gender identity policy allows our people to express themselves through uniform choice.
“As part of our policy, we complete a risk assessment on all countries we fly to, considering laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and expressions of identity on a case by case basis.
“Following a risk assessment, it was recommended the policy was not applied on today’s charter flight to ensure the safety of our people.”