LGBT+ community to be boosted by £10,000 every time Russia score in World Cup

Robin De Peyer
Evening Standard

A bookmaker has pledged to donate £10,000 to LGBT+ causes every time Russia score at the World Cup.

Paddy Power made the promise after the host country has faced criticism for draconian laws restricting the rights of LGBT+ people.

Gay fans travelling to the tournament have been warned they could face verbal and physical abuse at the hands of Russian hooligans, with little protection from authorities.

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In response, Paddy Power said it would donate cash to challenge prejudice "on and off the field", as well as supporting footballers in coming out as gay.

The pledge has been backed by transgender former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who said: "I think this is great. Russia, being one of the most anti-LGBT countries in the world, is now going to be supporting the community. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money."

A Paddy Power spokesman said: "Given they invented Russian Dolls, you’d be forgiven for thinking Russia wouldn’t have an issue with women being into other women.

"Likewise, their appreciation for bears is one shared around the world by the LGBT+ population, so it really is astonishing that they have not used their stewardship of this tournament to champion LGBT+ inclusivity."

Russia kick off the tournament on Thursday as they take on Saudi Arabia. They will also go head to head with Egypt and Uruguay in their group.

Human rights group Amnesty International accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "trampling" on LGBT+ rights through laws including a ban on "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" used to persecute members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Ahead of the tournament, the UK Parliament's foreign affairs select committee warned that openly gay World Cup fans "not only face the risk of violence from vigilante groups, but lack adequate protection from the state."

They added: “The far-right culture of Russian hooligan groups could place LGBT fans at particular risk of violence."

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