Russian 'vigilantes' vow to report kissing same-sex fans to police during World Cup
They will be patrolling the city of Rostov-on-Don during the month-long tournament
Russian Cossacks in the city of Rostov-on-Don have vowed to report same-sex fans who are seen kissing to police during the duration of this summer's FIFA World Cup in the country.
The city is one of 11 to host matches during the competition and will host five in total, including four group games and one round of 16 tie. As part of the its hosting, the city will see 300 Cossacks help police throughout.
According to a report in The Moscow Times, the same Cossack militias gained widespread attention in May when they were filmed beating anti-government protesters with whips in the capital.
“We’ll tell the police to take note of [kissing same-sex couples], the rest is up to the police,” Oleg Barannikov, head of the patrol units - known as the Almighty Don Host - was quoted as saying in a report.
The tournament, which will kick off on June 14 and run until July 15, is expected to see a huge influx of supporters from around the world, and homosexual fans have already been warned against displaying affection in public due to the country's discriminatory laws.
It remains illegal to be homosexual in Russia, and gay people in the country are routinely discriminated against by fellow civilians and government officials alike.
While the country's laws do not explicitly mentions homosexuality, they use the euphemism "non-traditional sexual relationships" as part of the ban on the promotion of such relationships among minors.
Such stringent laws have essentially made it illegal to hold gay pride events, speak out in support of gay rights, or say that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships in the presence of children.