|Arrested LGBT's Protesters are shoved into a police van for walking with the rainbow flag in a Moscow Street|
An LGBT Pride House will open during this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, in defiance of Vladimir Putin’s controversial anti-gay legislation.
According to Russian news service Fontanka, gay and lesbian visitors to soccer’s biggest tournament will be able to “find shelter” at the site, which will be set up in St. Petersburg, host city for both the first semifinal and the third-place playoff game.
In the summer of 2013, Russian president Putin pushed through a “gay propaganda” law that caused an international outcry and was criticized for severely affecting the rights of LGBT Russian citizens. Government officials, Putin himself, and – ahead of the World Cup – members of the Russian Football Union, have repeatedly stated that the law is merely intended to protect minors.
However, violent attacks on members of the LGBT community continue in Russia. FARE, Europe’s leading anti-discrimination soccer network, will warn World Cup visitors of the dangers of publicly showing affection in Russian cities.
“(Our) guide will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen tobe welcoming to the LGBT community,” Piara Power, executive director of FARE, told the Guardian.
In St. Petersburg, seen as the most European of Russian cities, there remains strong opposition to the local LGBT rights movement. One pro-LGBT rally was cancelled when a higher number of protestors than participants turned up.
Fans of Zenit St. Petersburg gained notoriety in 2012, issuing a decree demanding that the club’s hierarchy refrain from signing any gay or black players.
A recent survey commissioned by a betting website found that 39 per cent of Russians believe it is “likely or highly likely” that LGBT foreigners would be targeted for attacks during the tournament. Around 13 per cent of Russians are “irritated” by the presence of LGBT foreigners, per the survey.
Details for the Pride House, which will be run by prominent LGBT leaders from Russia, with international support, are still to be worked out, but the location will be organized without official government backing.
The tournament begins on June 14, with the final to be held in Moscow on July 15.