UK government seeks ‘assurances’ from Russia over safety of gay fans at World Cup

The UK government has been accused of “being complacent” towards the risk that gay fans may face at the World Cup in Russia.

The build-up to this summer’s tournament has been overshadowed by fears that foreign supporters will face discrimination from violent anti-gay factions in Russia.

Gay fans have been warned that even holding hands in public would be a dangerous act.

Foreign Office minister Harriett Baldwin was quizzed about the UK’s preparations for the contest by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday (May 9).

A general view of the Luzhniki stadium on August 29, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Lars Baron/Getty)

Labour’s Mike Gapes questioned the government on why potential threats to LGBT fans were “not mentioned” in the UK’s special advice hub set up for the World Cup, Be on the Ball.

He said: “If I’m a football fan and I’m going to Russia for the World Cup, I’d go on the ‘Be on the Ball’ website, and don’t get the advice [on LGBT issues] which is probably quite important. Why is it not on the main site?

“Given the level of homophobia in Russia, I’m a bit surprised it’s not given more prominence, because there may be people making a decision on going to Russia who may not be aware of some of the problems they might experience.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks prior to the start of the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty)

Baldwin responded that there is a section on LGBT rights in the UK’s standard travel advice for Russia, which was linked to via the Be on the Ball website.

She added that the government would “look at” making advice for LGBT fans more prominent.

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