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Six Soccer Fans Called Out Russia’s Government on Their LGBTQ Rights in a Clever Way

In a country where gay rights are extremely suppressed, world cup fans from all over the world sported the well-known colors of the rainbow in protest to the Russian government. Advertisement related to gay rights in Russia is illegal so sporting anything rainbow can get you arrested. In the midst of the World Cup, six soccer fans found a way to get around that law.



Russia and LGBTQ Rights

In 1993, Russia decriminalized homosexuality but that was about as far as their progressive agenda went. Same-sex couples are still denied certain legal rights that opposite-sex couples have. Homosexual couples are not allowed to adopt kids. Gays are allowed to be in the military but there’s an obvious “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.

In 2013, Putin employed a series of laws on “nontraditional” relationships. The laws are vague and basically, ban any public displays of affection and any advertisements for gay rights. So no rainbow flags or clothing in the streets of Russia.

Chechnya and Human Rights

In Chechnya, authorities arrest, torture, and kill those who they believe are homosexual. They put the men that they arrest in detention facilities. Many human rights groups refer to the facilities as concentration camps because they starve, beat, and torture the detainees. The authorities are trying to get these prisoners to reveal who else is gay.

Of course, the Chechen authorities deny any of this because they deny that gay people exist. Their argument is, “how can you arrest someone that doesn’t exist?”

Chechnya is a semi-independent state which is how they’re legally allowed to victimize and target gays vs. other areas of Russia that don’t take the discrimination to that level.

Russia and the World Cup

Since Russia hosted the World Cup in 2018, fans from every corner of the world came to watch the matches. Six fans, in particular, sent a powerful message to the Russian government while they were there…

Each of the six fans/activists hailed from a different country. Since they couldn’t display their LGBTQ pride by wearing rainbow colors, they each wore a soccer jersey from their native country. When they stood together their jerseys resembled the colors of a rainbow.

This display of LGBTQ pride is put together by an organization called La Federación Estatal de Lasbianas, Gais, Tranxuales, y Bisexuales (FELGTB). FELGTB is Spain’s biggest organization for LGBTQ rights.

Some Denmark fans did a similar display when they were there for the Denmark vs. France game. Instead of wearing the traditional Denmark jersey they sported a rainbow theme with each fan wearing a different color of the rainbow.


They used the hashtag #TheHiddenFlag to gain press around the world. One tweet from @Harleivy was particularly popular and went viral pretty fast. The president of FELGTB, Uge Sangil, said, “the Hidden Flag agenda gives visibility to ALL of the brave people who face discrimination, silencing, and fear on a daily basis in Russia and other parts of the world.”

People can’t protest for gay rights in Russia. Still, many activists hold signs at the gay parades in New York and California in protest to Russia’s oppression.