#ToRussiaWithLove say gay football fan clubs ahead of World Cup08 June 2018

A movement of gay football fan groups in Germany are set to launch a campaign this weekend to highlight the challenges and exclusion the LGBT+ community faces under Russian law, ahead of the World Cup kicking off next week.

Among the planned protests, LGBT+ activists will hold hands in front of Russian consular buildings in five German cities on Sunday, for an initiative named ‘Holding Hands for LGBT+ Rights’.

The Queer Football Fanclubs (QFF), a long standing association of LGBT+ football fan groups in Germany, and members of the Fare network, will host several events ahead of and during the FIFA World Cup in Russia to draw attention to the situation of the LGBT+ community in Russia. The campaign culminates in a mass gathering in the city of Cologne on the 8th July.

Russian laws which effectively prohibit the rights of the LGBT+ community ostensibly to protect minors have had led to abuse and attacks on the community in recent years.

By way of response QFF is planning events to raise awareness of LGBT+ rights. They have been running a social media campaign under the hashtag #ToRussiaWithLove since May to spread a message of peace and unity.

For more information on these upcoming events visit torussiawithlove.net or check out their Facebook page ToRussiaWithLove. Our Fare Diversity Guide to Russia also has further information for any LGBT+ fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup, with do’s and don’ts and specific advice for every host city.

Last week Fare released the latest in a seven-season report on discrimination in Russian football that found homophobia was on the rise in Russian stadiums.

The Russian authorities have promised a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT+ fans travelling to watch the tournament, in reality severe punishments including prison and expulsion from the country can be meted out to those violating Russia’s laws on spreading “propaganda”. Criticism from the international human rights and LGBT+ community has generally been ignored by Russia.

Some homophobic groups in Russia have made threats to known gay fans over social media, in attempts to discourage homosexuals and transgender people from travelling.