LGBT+ England fan proudly displays rainbow flag during team's first World Cup game in Russia

Ella Wills
England fan and LGBT+ rights campaigner Di Cunningham displays a rainbow flag before England's first World Cup match: AFP/Getty Images

An LGBT+ England fan has proudly displayed a rainbow Three Lions flag at the team's first World Cup game.

The Pride flag was unfurled during today's match against Tunisia by Di Cunningham, an LGBT+ campaigner with the Three Lions Pride support group.

Pictures shared on the group's Twitter showed the banner tied to the stands shortly after the start of the game on Monday.

The insignia received full backing from the Football Association, Ms Cunningham told Reuters.

Ms Cunningham is among the few openly gay England fans who have made the trip to Russia - where gay activists have been detained for taking part in demonstrations.

Prior to the World Cup, the Government warned fans that that “public attitudes towards LGBT+ people are less tolerant than in the UK”.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office directed fans to guidance published by the Football Supporters’ Federation which “strongly encouraged supporters to “not publicly display your sexuality.”

During an interview with Reuters, the 56-year-old media trainer said that Russian officials guaranteed no action would be taken to remove the banner in the arena.

But showing it off in the street might be considered a breach of Russia's 2013 law banning gay "propaganda", she said.

“When you travel abroad you always have to try and respect the local customs,” she said.

“For LGBT people, certainly here, it means taking account of attitudes and laws and so I certainly won’t be hoping to break any laws or offend anybody.”

Russian police briefly detained British campaigner Peter Tatchell in Moscow last week after he protested near the Kremlin in support of gay rights.

Gay fans say they feel increasingly comfortable at games in England, Ms Cunningham said, however it can be a very different story elsewhere.

“The idea of coming to Russia or going to (2022 World Cup host) Qatar and supporting England is really quite difficult for an LGBT-plus fan,” she said. “I don’t know how many other fans who would be prepared to come."