Dan Carter looks ahead to the World Cup and the implications for LGBT fans
The FIFA World Cup is due to due to begin on the 14th June and thousands of English fans are set to descend on Russia. If you’re an LGBT football fan it is important to remember that Russia is very different to the UK. Homophobia is tragically a deeply rooted fact within Russian society with 85% of Russians opposed to same-sex marriage and over 70% believing homosexuality to be wrong.
In 2013 the Russian Duma (Parliament) passed a far-reaching law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors across all areas of public life in Russia. The ‘gay propaganda’ law as it came to be known has been used as an excuse to ban the very limited pride events that already took place in the country and used to arrest, intimidate and fine gay activist.
Russian FA's equality officer Alexei Smertin has claimed that there will no ban on Foreign football fans carrying the rainbow flag or expressing feelings during the month-long event. It is highly unlikely that Vladimir Putin or the Russian Government will want controversy during the event given recent negative headlines about the country fans attending the games should exercise high levels of caution.
Despite what the Russian Government may or may not want they have created an environment where LGBT people are now in fear for their lives. It was reported by Pink News this week that gay fans should expect to be hunted down and stabbed if they attend the event. This is not just a threat to LGBT fans but anyone that these thugs perceive to be gay.
Russian thugs have been known to openly attack LGBT people in the streets, there have been stories of gay men in Russia being tortured on video, forced to admit they are gay and then those videos are distributed to their families and places of work. Homophobia is a common place event on the streets of major Russian cities so if you do attend we would encourage you to do your utmost to remain safe.
Fifa should never have handed the games to Russia, the Russian government have displayed a complete contempt for human rights and the football governing body must be held accountable for the risks they are placing onto football fans. Fifa have learnt no lessons and have demonstrated they do not care as they are allow Qatar, a country where being gay can get you a 7 year prison sentence, to host the World Cup in 2022.