The World Cup 2018 kicked off in Russia on Thursday with hosts Russia beating Saudi Arabia 5-0.
With 32 countries taking part in the biggest celebration of football, fans from all over the world are expected to fly down to Russia in order to witness the month-long tournament.
But in case you are LGBT then you need to take special precautions if you intend to visit Russia.
Although homosexuality is legal in Russia, there have been numerous cases of violence and discrimination against the gay community.
On the eve of the World Cup, gangs have even threatened to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans.
The Russian LGBT network has hence told the visitors to be careful of where they move about in Russia.
Svetlana Zakharova has said: “I would suggest to all the visitors to remember that Russia is a very homophobic country.
“I am sure that the authorities will try to do their best to protect all the guests of the World Cup, but our annual research shows that the amount of hate crimes against LGBT+ people is constantly growing.
“Be careful, pay attention to the situation around and people around, and at the same time try to enjoy your trip.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was a victim of such violence back in 200 when a group of neo-Nazis beat him up and the police stood by watching.
He too had a word of advice for the LGBT fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup.
Peter Tatchell said: “Sadly, my advice is not to participate in signs of affection and do not wear a rainbow badge in public.
“It is highly likely that the authorities will not come to your aid.
“Make sure your friends know where you are at all times and try and stay in areas where other supporters congregate like city-centre fan zones.”
Although FIFA has made it clear that homophobic abuse at matches will not be tolerated but LBGT Foundation has urged the fans to be extra cautious.
“Russia is a massive country and attitudes can vary from city to city. It’s reported that some areas such as the North Caucasus where matches are taking place are particularly intolerant when it comes to LGBT issues.
“However, cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg do have thriving gay scenes.
“Stick together with people you know and be wary about meeting new people from dating apps alone.
“Several sources reported cases of anti-gay Russian vigilante groups luring users out to be attacked or in rare cases killed.”
So if you are LGBT fan who is intending to visit Russia during the World Cup or are already in that country we would urge you to be finding of where you are going. Also please try to be in groups and do not wander off alone especially if you are wearing a rainbow ribbon.
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