Queer football fans have been “strongly” warned to not “publicly display sexuality” at the Russian World Cup.
LGBT+ fans should not hold hands or be affectionate towards their partner in public to ensure their safety, say the Football Supporters’ Federation.
“It is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality,” the Federation wrote in a post advising queer fans.
“With any trip abroad it is essential to understand your destination’s cultural and ideological beliefs. Whilst often you are able to behave as you would in the UK, certain things must be treated with caution in societies less tolerant than back home.”
The post may offer guidelines on personal safety for fans, but it appears to be confused over whether or not fans should wave rainbow flags.
“Russian FA’s equality officer, Alexei Smertin, advised there would be no ban on rainbow colours in Russia and fans would not be victimised for expressing feelings, although it is widely believed this could depend on individual circumstances,” the post reads.
Trans fans are also advised to find someone to attend the toilet with them, or to go to a disabled toilet if possible.
“Going to the toilet is a specific concern for trans people going to Russia for the World Cup,” the post reads.
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“We advise that you judge the situation on a case by case basis. If you do not feel safe, try and find a fellow fan to accompany you. If there is a disabled toilet and you are alone, that could be the safest option.”
LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell said that appointing Russia as the World Cup host nation has “greatly increased the anxiety of gay fans.”
“The only thing football fans should have to worry about is the strength and progress of their team and yet the decision to award Russia the football World Cup has greatly increased the anxiety of gay fans. Russia is not safe for LGBT+ people. It is a toxic homophobic environment,” Peter Tatchell wrote on the Peter Tatchell Foundation website.
“Russia under Putin has fomented anti-gay sentiment by passing a law in 2013 that was found by the European Court of Human Rights last year to ‘reinforce stigma and encourage homophobia.’ Hate crimes, including murder, against members of the LGBT+ community have escalated, with no government rebuke and with mostly inadequate police action.”
According to a study commissioned by Bonus Code Bets, 39 percent said it was likely that someone would attack foreign LGBT people during the competition.
Worryingly, the age group containing the highest percentage of people who thought an attack was “highly likely” was 16 to 24 year olds.
However, 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.
The World Cup will begin on June 14.