People around the globe are getting ready for the FIFA World Cup competition to begin in Russia next week. But for anyone traveling to the event who is gay, the competition could end up being highly restrictive.
Eleven cities are hosting matches from teams from around the world. In Rostov, a city about a three hours’ drive northeast of Moscow, traditional Cossacks who are volunteering to help out with security measures have made it clear they will not tolerate fans who are gay expressing themselves near the arena.
“If two men are kissing each other at the World Cup, we will tip off the police, drawing their attention to it and the rest is a police matter,” volunteer coordinator Oleg Barannikov said. “To us, values mean the [Christian] Orthodox faith and the family come first.”
It’s unclear what the police would do if Barannikov or anyone else “reported” someone for being gay, however. Although homosexuals face many kinds of persecution in Russia, being homosexual is not itself a crime.
There are laws, however, banning members of the LGBT community from wearing apparel or otherwise disseminating materials that identify themselves as gay. That law seeks to ensure that youth do not see homosexuality as “equivalent” to so-called traditional types of relationships.
It’s troubling that security volunteers are engaging in this type of rhetoric that threatens LGBT fans from freely expressing themselves or their love for one another. This cannot stand, and unless changes are made soon by Russia, FIFA ought to consider ways to rectify the situation themselves, including punishing the Russian team in future events.
Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Arnd Weiegmann/Reuters