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Russia will get a LGBT Pride House for the 2018 World Cup

Written by gaytourism

A Pride House. | Photo: Harry Pham

The host city of Russia’s 2018 World Cup, St Petersburg, will get a LGBT Pride House during the tournament.

The Pride House will open for LGBTI to ‘find shelter’ during one of the world’s most watched sporting competitions.

Pride Houses are dedicated temporary locations which host LGBT athletes, volunteers and visitors during big sporting events. Vancouver hosted the first Pride House at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

St Petersburg’s Pride House is a massive coup for the World Cup because of Russia’s anti-gay history. President Vladimir Putin introduced a law that bans ‘gay propaganda’ which has lead to the arrest of many LGBTI activists, some simply for sharing a news article on Facebook.

Since the law was first introduced, crimes against LGBTI people doubled in Russia.

Russian news outlet Fontanka reported that the Pride House would open for the World Cup, saying it comes after a number of pro-LGBTI rallies had been shut down in St Petersburg.

It’s not an official Pride House though

Local advocates will run the St Petersburg Pride House and it’s currently not affiliated with Pride House International (PHI).

PHI coordinates and helps set up Pride House at major international sporting events. Some of the events events even included past World Cups in 2014 and 2015 (Women’s World Cup).

In a statement PHI said it did not know who was organizing the St Petersburg Pride House but would happily work with them to make it happen.

‘Pride House International does have a history working with local LGBT+ activist organizations to develop safe spaces for LGBT+ fans, athletes, and allies and we have been in talks with local activist groups to strategize around the 2018 World Cup but this initiative in St. Petersburg is unknown to us,’ the statement read.

‘Although we at Pride House International are learning about these plans for the first time, we would invite the local Russian activist group to reach out to us for support.’

LGBTI and going to the World Cup?

Russia is not a very safe place for LGBTI people and is so homophobic that soccer’s governing body FIFA, might set up a ‘special task force’ to deal with the issue.

Butequality group, Fare, has published a guide for LGBTI people to protect themselves at the World Cup.

‘The guide will also include some detailed explanations of, for example, the actual situation of the LGBT community in Russia.

‘Issues relating to the LGBT community are not part of the public discourse,’ said Fare’s executive director Piara Powar.

But in one small victory, Russia relented and will allow rainbow flags at World Cup games.

Russia’s top anti-discrimination official for soccer suggested the ‘gay propaganda’ law will not be in effect during this time.

The World Cup runs from 14 June to 15 July, with final hosted in Moscow.

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