In protest of Russia's antigay policies during the World Cup soccer tournament, six activists formed a human flag using multi-colored soccer jerseys and walked defiantly around Moscow.
The project, called The Hidden Flag, involved six people sporting jerseys from their home countries, representing each color of the rainbow. The action was in response to Russia's state-sanctioned homophobia — the nation passed a gay "propaganda" ban in 2013.
in russia, the act of displaying the LGBT flag in public can get you arrested. so these 6 activists from latin america resorted to creativity: wearing uniforms from their countries' football teams, they turned themselves into the flag and walked around moscow with pride.pic.twitter.com/7Q2HgLemzh
— gabi (@harleivy) July 8, 2018
"We have taken advantage of the fact the country is hosting the World Cup at the same time as Pride Month, to denounce their behaviour and take the rainbow flag to the streets of Russia," the group asserted online. "Yes, in broad daylight, in front of the Russian authorities, society and the whole world. With pride."
The project included activists from Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia.
Russia has a well-documented history of censoring Pride events and public discussions of LGBT rights are banned under the 2013 law, ostensibly for the protection of children.
"There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia," Russian Football Union official Alexei Smertin told The Guardian when LGBT activists expressed concern about holding the World Cup there. "It's clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings. The law is about propaganda to minors. I can't imagine that anyone is going to go into a school and propagate that way to children."
In Russia it’s illegal to display the LGBT pride flag. So during the #WorldCup these 6 football fans have formed a hidden rainbow flag with their soccer jerseys, to protest Russia’s discriminatory laws in plain sight. #HiddenFlag pic.tawitter.com/I6uvYztGlR
— Jason Ball (@jasonballau) July 9, 2018
The Hidden Flag did not visit a school, but the protesters took pictures of themselves in parks, bus stops, next to Russian police, bars, the subway, and in front of a portrait of Vladimir Lenin.