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Gay fans will be allowed to fly rainbow flags at Russia World Cup 2018 stadiums

LGBT fans get assurance there will be no legal sanctions.

Portsmouth v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One
A rainbow flag on the pitch at an English Premier League game in November.
Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

A Russian World Cup official said that LGBT fans could fly rainbow flag at 2018 venues, but they can’t promote being gay to children.

Alexei Smertin, the Russian Football Union official and a World Cup ambassador, said spectators won’t be affected by a Russian law prohibiting ”propaganda” of homosexuality to minors.

”There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia. It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings,” Smertin said at a news conference in Moscow to discuss race and discrimination issues in soccer.

Smertin, who used to play for Chelsea, said Russia’s anti-LGBT law would prohibit any visitor promoting being gay to children. “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,” he said.

”He’s giving some reassurances and I think in the end that’s all that people want,” Fare executive director Piara Powar told The Associated Press. ”People want to know that they can come here safely, that they will be protected, that they are wanted.”

Earlier this week, Fare, which fights homophobia in soccer, warned gay fans about holding fans for fear of being attacked.

Despite what Russian officials have said, I still would be leery about displaying a rainbow flag at any venue in a country where there is great hostility to LGBT people. Officials might not do anything, but you can bet there are homophobic fans just itching to attack anyone they suspect is LGBT.