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Russia relents to allow rainbow flags at FIFA World Cup

But will it be different to the Sochi Olympics, when several gay rights activists were arrested and fined?

Russia relents to allow rainbow flags at FIFA World Cup
Tilda Swinton stands in solidarity with the LGBTI community in Russia

Russia has said rainbow flags will be allowed at the FIFA World Cup.

The top anti-discrimination official for soccer has said that fans will not be arrested for holding a rainbow flag, suggesting the ‘gay propaganda’ law will not be in effect during this time.

‘There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia’

‘There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia. It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings,’ Alexei Smertin, a Russian Football Union official said at a news conference in Moscow to discuss race and discrimination issues in football.

The former Russia and Chelsea midfielder added it’s unlikely gay fans could fall foul of Russian law, saying: ‘The law is about propaganda to minors … I can’t imagine that anyone is going to go into a school and speak.’

This is being applauded by some, like FARE executive director Piara Powar.

‘He’s giving some reassurances and I think in the end that’s all that people want,’ FARE executive director Powar told Associated Press.

‘People want to know that they can come here safely, that they will be protected, that they are wanted.’

At the Sochi Olympics, there WAS a ban on wearing rainbow symbols

The last time Russia held a major world sporting event, the Sochi Olympics, there were several arrests of human rights activists on an almost daily basis.

Vladimir Luxuria was arrested twice at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

She was arrested and fined once for holding a LGBTI rights protest and again the next day when she turned up to a hockey match in a rainbow dress.

Will it be any different this time?

Vitaly Milonov, co-sponsor of the ‘non-traditional relationships’ bill, said the government cannot decide when to selectively enforce the law.

‘If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.’


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