Pride House to open during the World Cup in Russia
A Pride House will be held during the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia, defying the country’s harsh stance on open LGBT support.
Pride Houses are venues at major sporting events for LGBT athletes, coaches and prominent visitors, similar to the venues held by individual countries for their athletes.
After the first Pride House was set up at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, they have been a staple of many international sporting events.
Russian authorities banned one from taking place at the Sochi Winter Olympics, prompting groups around the world to host their own in solidarity with the LGBT athletes and visitors in Russia.
It was expected that there would not be a Pride House at this year’s World Cup due to Russia’s harsh anti-LGBT stance.
However, according to Pride House International, the group responsible for the oversight of Pride Houses at major sporting events, plans to hold a house during this year’s World Cup are underway.
The house will reportedly be held at a yet undisclosed location in St Petersburg and will be held without government support.
Governments will often contribute to the running of the houses, with one example of the Scottish Government providing £25,000 to the Pride House in Glasgow during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
This will be the first Pride House to be held at an international football event.
The house will reportedly be organised and hosted by the Russian LGBT Sport Federation.
Previous events by the Federation, as well as other publicly pro-LGBT events, have been shut down by government officials and police in the past.
Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since Russia created a law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”, which has been used to stifle any public display of homosexuality or display of support for LGBT rights.
It was reported last year that fans travelling to Russia for the 2018 World Cup would be warned by rights groups to avoid holding hands or bringing rainbow flags.
Fare, a campaign group which strives for equality in football, will hand out a troublingly bleak guide to fans travelling to the World Cup next year.
Piara Powar, the activist group’s executive director, told The Guardian: “The guide will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen to be welcoming to the LGBT community.
Russian Football Union official Alexei Smertin said: “There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia. It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings.”
It would not be the first time that foreign visitors are exempted from the gay propaganda law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave assurances ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, when gay athletes and fans launched a boycott of the events.
Putin insisted gay fans would not get in trouble – “if they leave kids alone”.
Football already has problems regarding homophobia, with FIFA having repeatedly fined countries such as Mexico and Argentina after their fans were caught singing anti-gay chants.
Before the Confederations Cup last summer in Russia, the organisation gave referees the power to call off matches if they heard fans use discriminatory language.
The World Cup is expected to start June 14.