Warnings issued for LGBTQ fans attending World Cup in Russia

General view of a rainbow colored corner flag in support of the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign before the game.  (Reuters)

LGBTQ soccer fans who plan on attending the World Cup in Russia in June were warned Tuesday to avoid public displays of sexuality over fears of reprisal from the Kremlin.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), an organization that represents soccer fans in Britain, issued the warning, according to Pink News.

“Although same-sex sexual activity has been decriminalized in Russia since 1993, it is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality,” the FSF said. “But this is up to the individual. With any trip abroad it is essential to understand your destination’s cultural and ideological beliefs. Whilst often you are able to behave as you would in the U.K., certain things must be treated with caution in societies less tolerant than back home.”

FSF didn’t say whether waving rainbow flags would result in any kind of punishment.

“Russian FA’s equality officer, Alexei Smertin, advised there would be no ban on rainbow colors in Russia and fans would not be victimized for expressing feelings, although it is widely believed this could depend on individual circumstances,” the group said.

Transgender fans were also urged to go to the bathroom in groups or used a handicap stall if possible, according to Pink News.

Similar warnings were issued prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Outsports noted.