The World Cup Diversity House, a safe zone for LGBTI people and other minorities, has been shut down in St Petersburg ahead of its opening.

Advocacy group The Fare Network has accused Russian authorities of having the venue shut down, ABC News has reported.

Fare, which campaigns against racism and homophobia in sport, had planned to hold exhibitions and talks on human rights in St Petersburg and Moscow during the World Cup.

The venue that was to host the St Petersburg Diversity House pulled out the night before the planned opening, saying the activists were not welcome.

“They asked us to leave the place very rudely, switched off the electricity and they explained nothing to us,” said an organiser.

Other groups renting in the building were reportedly told not to allow Fare to use their space, and an appeal by FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura was “to no avail”.

Fare executive director Piara Powar said that Fare had only “anecdotal evidence” but suspected city government involvement.

“It seems to be clear that the project in St Petersburg has been subject to a political attack of the kind that shows how debates about human rights are curtailed by powerful conservative political forces in Russia,” said Powar.

“The way in which the Diversity House in St Petersburg has been closed down is familiar to organisations in St Petersburg; they recognise it as the method through which the city authorities shut down activities which do not conform to their political outlook.

“If the local authorities apply the same pressure, we are quite prepared with our local partners to play cat-and-mouse with them until they see the value of what we are trying to do.”

Despite homosexuality being legal, LGBTI people still face persecution in Russia, and St Petersburg is an especially conservative political centre.

LGBTI fans were warned of the risk of violence after extremists made death threats ahead of the World Cup.

A gay man visiting for the event was last week beaten and robbed in St Petersburg, sustaining serious injuries.

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