These gay fans are risking violence to attend the Russian World Cup
The threat of violence towards LGBT+ fans at the Russian World Cup has been a great cause of concern for queer fans.
But some England fans are flying out to the tournament and standing tall in order to support their team – and their community.
As AFP reported, some queer fans are making the trip to the nation with one of the most punitive anti-gay laws in Eastern Europe in spite of receiving death threats.
One LGBT+ fan Di Cunningham has received violent threats after she said she would be attending the international event in an interview.
In spite of the malevolent emails – including one with a picture of a man wielding a switchblade – Cunningham wants to “ensure” that there’s a queer community present at the tournament.
“It is unacceptable that FIFA has given the tournament to two anti-LGBT countries in a row,” the fan told AFP.
“I want to support my team and to ensure that, however small, there is a visible LGBT+ fan presence in a country which is hostile to that community,” she added.
Another fan, who has decided to remain anonymous, doesn’t want to miss the trip of a lifetime because he is gay.
“I want to experience the atmosphere, the thrill of going to a World Cup and, of course, I want to cheer on England,” the 25-year-old told the news agency.
Members of the Cossack Russian militia have stated they will patrol a number of World Cup games to help police prevent gay men from kissing.
Oleg Barannikov, a coordinator of Cossack volunteer guards, said: “If two men kiss at the World Cup we will ask the police to pay attention to them, and what happens next is up to the police.
“For us values above all mean Orthodox Christianity and family.
“We Cossacks have gone through too much for those values to be just thrown away.”
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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.
Football at home and abroad struggles with issues of homophobia.
There is not a single current openly gay player in the English Premier League.