Russian officials have said that gay fans will not face arrest if they travel to Russia for the World Cup in 2018. They also insisted that gay people would be allowed to carry the rainbow flag and hold hands, despite Russia’s draconian LGBTQ laws.

Russia has a law which prevents ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships.’ Under normal circumstances, public displays of homosexuality such as carrying the flag or kissing could lead to arrest. An official for the Russian football association said ‘There will definitely be no ban on wearing rainbow symbols in Russia. It’s clear you can come here and not be fined for expressing feelings.’ He added ‘The law is about propaganda to minors… I can’t imagine that anyone is going to go to a school and speak.’

A spokesperson for the equality in football group Fare welcomed the news saying He’s giving some reassurances and I think in the end that’s all that people want. People want to know that they can come here safely, that they will be protected, that they are wanted.’ This is not the first time the Russian state has declared visitors will be seemingly exempt from laws imposed on locals. Back in 2014, President Putin said LGBT visitors to the country would be welcome for the Sochi Winter Olympics.