Russia normally outlaws gay "propaganda" to minors and hanging a rainbow flag can lead to arrest. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

St Petersburg, Russia  — The World Cup is making Russia look almost gay-friendly. Russia normally outlaws what authorities call gay propaganda to minors. Simply hanging a rainbow flag can lead to arrest.

But the international scrutiny that comes with hosting the event has forced Russian authorities to be more lenient to LGBT activists. Gay activists in Russia say they are glad nations didn't boycott the World Cup over the anti-gay law. They hope this shift lasts beyond the tournament, and that the World Cup will leave a changed nation in its wake.

The next World Cup faces even more issues for gay rights. Gay sex is illegal in Qatar, the host of the 2022 tournament.