A hit football video game has come under fire from Russian politicians because of its support for an anti-homophobia campaign.
The game’s makers, EA Sports, allowed players of FIFA 17 – which was released in September – to use rainbow-coloured uniforms in the game in support of British LGBT rights group Stonewall’s “Rainbow Laces” campaign.
“Show your support for the Premier League and Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign with the Rainbow Kit. Wear it with pride and help raise awareness,” read a message displayed in the game.
Research released by Stonewall earlier this year revealed that 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at a live sports event. The Rainbow Laces campaign, in collaboration with sporting authorities, aims to tackle homophobia in the game.
Although FIFA 17’s Rainbow Kit option was for a limited time and ended on 28 November, Russian lawmakers are outraged and want action taken against the game for violating the country’s “gay propaganda” ban.
“Every state has its internal laws and order; they need to be obeyed,” Irina Rodnina, a former figure skater and State Duma Deputy, told Isvestia.
The Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement that children must be protected “from information harmful to their health or development, including propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”.
State Duma Deputy Valery Rashkin also called for the game to be changed or for its “all ages” rating to be amended or face being banned.
The law prohibiting the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relationships to minors was signed by President Putin in 2013. The “gay propaganda” law effectively bars any expression or discussion of homosexuality in public, on television, in print or on the internet.
The law has been blamed for increased anti-gay sentiment, discrimination and violence against members of the LGBT community. The authorities recently blocked a website run by LGBT group Deti 404, which provided support and advice to young Russians grappling with their sexuality or gender identity.