Russia is not welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Sexual orientation and gender identity is enough to subject members of the LGBTQ community to violence – and even death – at the hands of other Russians and officials. Despite a period of relative tolerance in the 1990s, the government – under the guise of protecting children – has become increasingly hostile to this group. In 2013, the introduction of the law known as “For the Purpose of Protecting Children From Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values,” made it illegal to disseminate publications that expressed pro-LGBTQ information, but was broad enough that it essentially outlawed items like the LGBTQ pride flag. Ahead of the World Cup, Russia’s top anti-discrimination official said spectators were free to wave the rainbow flag during the tournament. But the temporary lift doesn’t change the rampant homophobia and the hate crimes that follow. So during the month of June in Russia, six activists from Latin America and Europe donned fútbol jerseys from their countries to match the color of each stripe on the flag. They called the project The Hidden Flag.
“Taking advantage that the country is hosting the World Cup these days – at the same time as the rest of the world celebrates Pride – we decided to denounce the situation and take our flag to the streets of Russia,” The Hidden Flag’s website reads. “That’s right, in broad daylight, in front of Russian authorities, society, and the entire world. With pride. How? Using something that would never arouse anyone’s suspicion: soccer jerseys. Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia. Six countries. Six brave LGBT activists who, together, formed our flag and toured emblematic sites in Russia, taking into every corner a fight that will never be silenced. ”
Check out their powerful protest below.