Gay football fans hoping to go to the World Cup in Russia this year had already been warned against holding hands.

And just last week, another guidance came out from the Football Supporters’ Federation which warned couples not to “publicly display your sexuality.” It also advised that transgender fans should either have someone accompany them to the bathroom, or to use the disabled toilets.

And now, something even more alarming has emerged. Speaking to the Mirror, Joe White, the Pride in Football campaign leader said: “We’ve had people say that if they find us they’ll stab us, so it’s been a mixture but they’re being dealt with seriously and those investigations are still ongoing.”

However, despite the threats White refused to conform, saying: “I could go out and almost go back into the closet and act butch, but that kind of plays exactly into what we are trying to show is an issue.

“We shouldn’t have to feel that we have to behave any differently than we would.”

White added: “It’s not like I’m going to be sticking my tongue down people’s throats or anything. I’m going out there for the football and to experience the World Cup.”

Related: Pride House to open during 2018 World Cup despite Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws

Despite the threats, White hoped that LGBTQ visibility would be able to be promoted. “If it’s safe to do so we’ll be taking rainbow flags, hopefully getting some form of visibility in stadiums to show that LGBT football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we’re a valid part of the game,” he said.

He continued, saying: “Unless there is someone kind of putting their head above the parapet, it’s very easy for them to say we don’t exist.

“I think we definitely have a responsibility to highlight any form of inequality. Hopefully teams, players and managers can come into that conversation when they feel safe to do so.”

Russia has some of the, if not the, worst LGBTQ rights in the developed world. During the country’s recent Presidential election, an advert ran which warned people that they would have to live with a gay person if they didn’t vote. And a recent poll found that 83% of Russians consider gay sex to be “reprehensible.”

 In 2013, Vladimir Putin signed into effect a gay propaganda rule, which banned the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual orientations to minors. Under the law, a Calvin Klein advert was banned, there were calls to ban the game FIFA 17, and the Warwick Rowers naked calendar was banned.