Despite Russia’s law against so-called gay propaganda, there will be an LGBT Pride House in the nation during this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament.
The house, which will provide a safe and welcoming space for LGBT visitors, will be in St. Petersburg, USA Today reports, citing a story from Russian news service Fontanka. Russian LGBT organizations will run the house, with support from international groups but no backing from Russia’s government.
The government rejected applications from organizations that wanted to set up a Pride House in the Olympic Village in Sochi in 2014, even though previous Olympic host countries had allowed Pride Houses. USA Today did not include any comment from Russian officials, but it appeared plans for the Pride House would go forward in any case.
Russia passed a national law in 2013 banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” — basically, any positive mention of LGBT identity or causes — in venues accessible to minors. St. Petersburg had adopted a local version of the law a year earlier. Along with the laws, there has been widespread violence against LGBT people in the nation. A poll taken by a betting website found 39 percent of respondents thought it “likely or highly likely” that LGBT tourists would be targeted for attacks during the World Cup, USA Today reports.
Games will take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities, but St. Petersburg may be particularly inhospitable to LGBT visitors. “In St. Petersburg, seen as the most European of Russian cities, there remains strong opposition to the local LGBT rights movement,” USA Today notes. In 2012, fans of the city’s soccer team, Zerit St. Petersburg, demanded that the team not sign any gay or black players.
Fare, an organization that fights discrimination in the soccer world, is preparing a guide on staying safe while attending the World Cup. The tournament opens June 14 and runs through July 15.