With the World Cup starting Thursday in Russia — a country that can be hostile to LGBT people — an activist group has set up a safety hotline for any visiting fans who feel threatened.
The St. Petersburg-based group Coming Out notes that “although Russia promises to demonstrate a high level of tolerance and security, foreign football organizations warn LGBT fans that there are no effective laws in Russia that would protect them against potential manifestations of intolerance.”
LGBT soccer fans traveling to Russia are being cautious about public displays of affection and waving rainbow flags, fearful more from hooligans than from any government action. The hotline is designed to connect any fans with legal help in case of an emergency.
Here is release from Coming Out:
The World Cup is coming soon. Although Russia promises to demonstrate a high level of tolerance and security, foreign football organizations warn LGBT fans that there are no effective laws in Russia that would protect them against potential manifestations of intolerance. No matter how tense the situation might be, “Coming Out” will try to ensure the safety of LGBT people in St. Petersburg for both residents and tourists.
During the Championship our lawyers and psychologists will be ready to help if necessary. Please write down our contact information for the Championship: call +7 (953) 170 97 71 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Call us if:
--You have been refused services because of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender;
--You have been attacked or threatened with violence for the same reason;
--You have been accused of “homosexual propaganda” and there is a risk of administrative legal action.
Why is this necessary?
Despite the fact that there have been discussions of a policy of non-discrimination in football, football fans do not always adhere to it. Recently, the UEFA disciplinary committee fined FC Zenit 50,000 euro (about $60,000) for the racist behavior of its fans. The chances of being affected by discrimination and violence from fans are high for both residents and tourists.
The situation is worsened by the Russian discriminatory legislation: we are referring to the infamous “propaganda of homosexuality law”. For the Russian Federation citizens, this law entails an administrative liability and a fine of up to 100,000 rubles (about $1,600).
Foreigners, in addition to a fine or administrative arrest, are liable for deportation from the Russian Federation. Since in the five years of the law’s existence, law enforcement agencies have not developed a clear understanding of what “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” means, the law can be applied arbitrarily.
How does the hotline work?
Call the hotline or write on WhatsApp to +7 (953) 170 97 71, or send an email to email@example.com
We will register your call/text/email, and within a day you will be contacted by a lawyer who will assess the situation, and consult you on the best course of action. In urgent cases the lawyer will call you immediately. How we can help: we can prepare an appeal to the consulate, draw up the necessary documents, and, if necessary, represent you in court. In difficult cases, our psychological service will step in to help.
The hotline is bilingual: we speak Russian and English.
Please note: the hotline will be open from June 14 to July 15, only for the duration of the Championship.