Gay fans told not to hold hands at the 2018 World Cup
Gay fans have been warned that holding hands at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be dangerous.
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.
He continued: “If you have gay fans walking down the street holding hands, will they face danger in doing so?
“That depends on which city they are in and the time of day.”
Powar added that the guide will outline that “gay people have a place in Russia, which is quite hidden and underground.”
Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since Russia created a law banning gay “propaganda”.
The 2013 legislation, which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors, has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.
And authorities in Chechnya – a region of Russia – have detained more than 100 men in a gay purge this year, torturing and killing them while encouraging families to do the same.
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 this summer in Russia, the organisation gave referees the power to call off matches if they heard fans use discriminatory language.
But FIFA’s actions do not seem to have dispelled fears of activists.
Powar said that chants including the word “puto” have become “a big thing in football” since the last World Cup in 2014.
In March, Atlanta United supporters in the US were heard repeatedly chanting the word – which in this context means ‘male prostitute’ – at opposition players.
“There is no offence of homophobia in FIFA’s rules, and we have made clear that there should be,” Powar said.
“It is critical there is a clear message about Fifa’s ability to act in these cases against the fans that are responsible.”
Russia came second-bottom in Europe’s latest LGBT rights rankings – to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is guilty of instituting its own LGBT purge, detaining and torturing at least 100 gay and trans people to force them to give up other LGBT people.
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