Peter Tatchell has jetted in to Russia to protest against the treatment of LGBT+ people ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The LGBT+ and human rights campaigner will spend the next few days protesting to raise awareness of Russia’s maltreatment of its LGBT+ community.
‘It is appalling that this tournament is being held in a country where gay football fans are openly threatened that they will be hunted down, beaten and stabbed.’
Tatchell told GayStarNews that he wanted to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of persecuted LGBTs in Russia.
‘Putin’s 2013 anti-gay law against so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ has been used to criminalise peaceful LGBT+ protests, sack LGBT+ teachers and suppress welfare organisations that support LGBT+ teenagers. It’s effect has been deadly and devastating.
‘I am here to draw global attention to the risks and threats faced every day by Russian LGBT+ people.’
Tatchell also wants to see World Cup organiser FIFA brought to account for continuing to allow countries with poor human rights records to host the games.
FIFA under fire for awarding games ‘recklessly’
‘FIFA has recklessly given the World Cup 2022 to Qatar where the human rights abuses are even worse,’ he said. ‘There can be no normal sporting relations with an abnormal regime like that of Vladimir Putin. LGBT+ people suffer state-sanctioned persecution and vigilante violence.’
This is the campaigner’s six visit to Russia. He was arrested during one protest there and suffered brain damage after being attacked by Russian neo-Nazis.
‘I’m amazed at getting permission to enter the country, given my past history of protest here,’ he said.
He warned that LGBT+ fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup should be vigilant.
‘Little action has been taken by the Russian government and police to crack down on far right extremists who target LGBT+ people for violent and humiliating assaults – including the instigators of the current threats to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans at the World Cup’.
He said that, while he was apprehensive he was undeterred by any threats. He even demonstrated a sense of humour when we asked if he had tried to arrange a meeting with president Putin.
‘Do you think he would have a sit down with me? I doubt it. Maybe I will see him on Grindr.’
MEPs urge EU teams to wear rainbow laces in support
Tatchell is not alone in his support of LGBT+ rights around Russia and the World Cup tournament.
MEPs from the LGBTI Intergroup sent packets of rainbow shoelaces to football teams across Europe.
They encouraged teams to wear the shoelaces during training sessions, on the street, in the stands or at home while watching football.
The group also asked the teams take pictures and share them on social media using the #supportallcolours hashtag”
The FIFA World Cup kicks off in Moscow on 14 June.