Russian thugs have threatened to kill gay football fans who come to the World Cup.
Pride in Football – an alliance of LGBTI football fan groups – has had to report death threats to police.
Emails have been sent to the group warning them LGBTI people will be ‘hunted down and stabbed’.
Joe White, Pride in Football’s campaign leader, said the threats were being taken seriously.
‘We’ve had people say that if they find us they’ll stab us, so it’s been a mixture but they’re being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing,’ he said.
UK warns fans going to Russia fans to not be ‘publicly gay’
Last week the Football Supporters’ Federation – in collaboration with the Football Association , and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – issued a guide advising LGBT fans heading to the tournament not to publicly display their sexuality.
This means LGBTI people will not be able to hold hands or kiss in public.
Officials have suggested the ‘gay propaganda’ ban, enacted in 2013, will not be in effect during the World Cup.
However, Vitaly Milonov – the author of the law – has said the government cannot decide on a whim to suspend legislation.
White has said he plans to protest.
‘I could go out and almost go back into the closet and act butch that kind of plays exactly into what we are trying to show is an issue,’ he told the Mirror.
There will be a pro-gay protest in the stadiums
‘We shouldn’t have to feel that we have to behave any differently than we would.
‘It’s not like I’m going to be sticking my tongue down people’s throats or anything. I’m going out there for the football and to experience the World Cup.
In 2017, Russia was ranked 48th out of 49 European countries for LGBT rights.
‘If it’s safe to do so we’ll be taking rainbow flags, hopefully getting some form of visibility in stadiums to show that LGBT football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we’re a valid part of the game,’ said White.
‘Unless there is someone kind of putting their head above the parapet, it’s very easy for them to say we don’t exist.
‘I think we definitely have a responsibility to highlight any form of inequality. Hopefully teams, players and managers can come into that conversation when they feel safe to do so.’