Gay fans told not to hold hands at the 2018 World Cup

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 14: The Denmark fans celebrate after the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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.

DOETINCHEM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 22: Fans of Iceland celebrate during the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 Group C match between Iceland and Switzerland at Stadion De Vijverberg on July 22, 2017 in Doetinchem, Netherlands. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)


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”.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 07:  Players of Portugal holding their hands at  their national anthem for the Men's Group D first round match between Honduras and Portugal during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)


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.

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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.

PARIS - FEBRUARY 9:  Cameroon players holds hands prior to the International friendly match between Cameron and Senegal at Stade Dominique Duvauchelle on February 8, 2005 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)


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.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13: Germany celebrate with the World Cup trophy  after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Germany win the 2014 World Cup (Getty)

“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.”

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13:  Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany celebrates with the World Cup trophy after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)


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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