Russia’s anti-gay legislation may lead to fewer athletes, fans at 2018 World Cup

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After Russia approved several anti-LGBT legislations despite criticism from the European Council and several human rights groups, the country’s hosting of the World Cup may derail athletes and soccer fans from attending the 2018 event.

After several attacks from devout Orthodox Christian activists after the approval of the bills, the Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GFSN) may decide to change plans in fear of persecution and arrest for waving the rainbow flag and suggest fans cancel their trips.

“The GFSN is very concerned that the [soccer]authorities see fit to award the prestigious World Cup to countries such as Russia which discriminate against the LGB&T community,” GFSN’s Campaign Officer Ed Connell said in a public statement.

“We would urge UEFA and FIFA to demonstrate their resolve to tackle discrimination by seeking assurances that LGB&T supporters will be able to attend these events without the risk of intimidation or arrest merely because of their sexuality. 

“We would also hope that future host applications would be scrutinized more closely so as to ensure that competitions are not awarded to countries with poor human rights records or without assurances from those countries that all members of the [soccer]family will be both safe and welcome,” Connell added.

According to a study by the Levada Center, 85 percent of Russians oppose marriage equality, 27 percent believed that homosexuals need treatment, and 5 percent said that gays should be “liquidated”.

With a vote of 436 to 0, Russia’s State Duma approved a bill banning “homosexual propaganda” that included organizing a pride parade and insulting a person’s religious beliefs as criminal offenses.

“The crackdown against gays and lesbians in Russia is very troubling. While the rest of Europe is building a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love, Russia’s policies are making life more dangerous and less free for not only gays and lesbians, but all of Russia,” All Out co-founder Andre Banks said in a press release.

All Out created a petition against the anti-LGBT legislation, which had received over 86,000 signatures.

Russia stands by the legislation, as their Senate views them fulfilling an obligation to protect youth, maintain order under Putin’s rule and preserve Russian Catholic values.

Additional articles:

Russia’s lower house of parliament passes anti-LGBT legislation

LGBT groups respond to Russia’s homosexual propaganda legislation

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