Russia World Cup | Gay couple severely beaten while rainbow flag waved at match


Pic: Alexander Agapov

A French same-sex couple visiting Russia for the FIFA World Cup were attacked by thugs, while an activist made a defiant statement at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday.

The couple were reportedly targeted while catching a taxi together in Saint Petersburg. One of the victims, identified as O Darius, was hospitalised with severe brain injury, according to Operdrain, a channel on the Telegram messaging app.

The Sun also reported that doctors discovered that the victim had a brain contusion, and a craniocerebral injury, as well as an upper jaw fracture, leaving the man “disabled.” It is unclear what injuries were suffered by the second man.

The victims were also robbed of their possessions, including their phones and money, during the assault. Two men, named as Ismet Gaidarov and Rasul Magomedev, believed to be in their 20s, have been arrested in connection with the attack.

On a more positive note, on Thursday, Alexander Agapov, the president of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation, made history when he held up a rainbow flag at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow during the Russia vs Saudi Arabia game. He also waved the flag while President Putin made a speech before the match, all apparently without incident.

A month prior to the official kick-off of the World Cup, homophobic Russians threatened to attack English LGBT soccer fans who were planning on visiting the country during the tournament. The organisation Pride In Football said they had received emails with threats to target LGBT visitors.

“We’ve had people say that if they find us they’ll stab us, so it’s been a mixture but they’re being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing,” Joe White, Pride in Football’s campaign leader, told news publication, The Mirror

Earlier this week, UK activist Peter Tatchell was arrested during a legal one-man protest against the country’s mistreatment of the LGBT community. He was released a short while later.

Hate crimes against LGBT people in Russia have increased since the signing into law of the 2013 legislation that banned gay “propaganda”. Last year, there were reports that dozens of people suspected to be gay were arrested, tortured and even allegedly killed in the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya.

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