English gay football fans at risk of attack or arrest
Contact: Simon Harris (Simon@PeterTatchellFoundation.org)
The Peter Tatchell Foundation has written to the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, urging him to initiate special measures to protect LGBT+ football fans heading to Russia for this summer’s football World Cup. See below.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said:
“The only thing football fans should have to worry about is the strength and progress of their team and yet the decision to award Russia the football World Cup has greatly increased the anxiety of gay fans. Russia is not safe for LGBT+ people. It is a toxic homophobic environment.”
“Russia under Putin has fomented anti-gay sentiment by passing a law in 2013 that was found by the European Court of Human Rights last year to “reinforce stigma and encourage homophobia”. Hate crimes, including murder, against members of the LGBT+ community have escalated, with no government rebuke and with mostly inadequate police action.”
The Peter Tatchell Foundation has written to the Foreign Secretary asking for him to reassure LGBT+ fans that consular assistants will have specific training to deal with problems and for the Foreign Office to provide detailed LGBT+ specific travel advice and contact points in cities that England fans will be travelling to.
According to a study commissioned by Bonus Code Bets, 39 percent of Russians said it was likely that someone would attack foreign LGBT+ fans during the competition. The age group containing the highest percentage of people who thought an attack was “highly likely” was 16 to 24-year-olds.
Mr Tatchell added:
“I know Boris Johnson will be looking at measures to keep British fans safe but specific attention should be given to LGBT+ fans who are going to be at more risk of violence and arrest.”
“Detailed travel advice is imperative. There will be many fans travelling to this toxic homophobic environment and we have a duty to ensure they are well informed about the dangers and how to get help if they are victimised.”
The Peter Tatchell Foundation’s letter to the Foreign Secretary has put to him four questions and proposals:
- Will the FCO have specially trained around-the-clock consular advice and assistance available to LGBT+ fans who travel to Russia?
- Will FCO staff to travel to the Russian cities where England is playing, to assist LGBT+ fans who may be victims of hate crime or arrest under Russia’s anti-gay laws?
- Would it also not be beneficial for the FCO to provide a publicised contact point in the host cities for LGBT+ fans, in the event that they are attacked or arrested?
- The attitudes and laws in Russia vary from location to location so would it not be appropriate for the FCO to publish unambiguous advice on a location-by-location basis and make it clear where help can be sought by LGBT+ fans who have been victimised