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Russian authorities close LGBTI safe space at World Cup, force it to move

Written by gaytourism

The Moscow Diversity House. | Photo: Fare Network

The organizers of Diversity House, a safe space for LGBTI fans during the World Cup, say a ‘political attack’ forced the closure of its location in St Petersburg.

Just days before the House’s opening, the building’s landlords refused to hand over the keys. They had withdrawn permission for it to operate there.

The Fare Network – which fights discrimination in soccer – planned to open two locations during Russia’s World Cup. The other House is now open in Moscow.

‘The way in which the Diversity House was closed down is familiar to organisations in St. Petersburg, they recognise it as the method through which the city authorities shut down activities which do not conform to their political outlook,’ said Fare’s executive director, Piara Powar.

‘It is difficult to obtain anything but anecdotal evidence to support the assertion but it seems to be clear that the project in St. Petersburg has been subject to a political attack of the kind that shows how debates about human rights are curtailed by powerful conservative political forces in Russia.’

Powar said Fatma Samoura, the Secretary General of FIFA, ‘made represenations’ on behalf of Fare to no avail. FIFA is soccer’s international governing body.

The new safe space

The network had to quickly find another location to setup its Diversity House.

The new House is now operating at Berghold space and is run by Fare and the Cup for People project.

‘Local groups and activists did an amazing job by finding a new venue and spending two days moving and making preparations to re-open. We salute their spirit and dedication to the cause of diversity and anti-discrimination,’ Powar.

Fare opened the Diversity Houses to provide a space for LGBTI people this month’s World Cup in Russia. The space is needed because Russian fans have threatened kill LGBTI fans, while a soccer insider believed authorities would likely cover up any murders of LGBTI people during the tournament.

Over the weekend thugs violently attacked a gay couple in St Petersburg. One of them suffered a serious brain injury in the attack.

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