Russian police detain Italian gay-rights activist prior to entering hockey game

Jay Busbee
Russian police detain Italian gay-rights activist prior to entering hockey game

Russian police have reportedly detained an Italian gay-rights activist as she sought to enter Shayba Arena on Monday night to watch a hockey game.

Vladimir Luxuria, an Italian lawmaker-turned-transgender activist, had been walking throughout Olympic Park for several hours prior to the game, shouting "Gay is OK" in both Russian and English. When she attempted to enter the hockey game, she was led away by four men, according to the AP. Luxuria was shouting "I have a ticket!" to no avail. She was later led to a car and driven away.

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This is not the first protest incident in Sochi, nor even the first for Luxuria, according to her. She indicated that on Sunday evening she'd been detained by police who told her not to fly a flag with the "Gay Is OK" slogan. Russia has a stringent anti-gay propaganda law. However, police denied to the AP that they had detained her.

"The problem was not a rainbow flag, the problem was the writing,’’ the AP quoted Luxuria as saying. "They asked me not to show things like that anymore." She noted that she had been treated well by police.

Luxuria was born a male but refers to herself as a female despite not having had reassignment surgery. She represented the Communist Refoundation Party in Italy's Parliament for two years in the mid-2000s.

"I think this is so important," she said of her protests, according to Reuters. "For me, I've experienced in my childhood what it means to be beaten up or abused for the fact that I'm transgender. If I stop wearing the colors of the rainbow, just because somebody took away a flag from me, that means that these people win."

 Also on Monday, Sochi police arrested activist David Khakim and sentenced him to 30 days of community service. Khakim was protesting a three-year prison sentence handed down to Yevgeny Vitishko, an environmental activist who had been staunchly critical of the Sochi Games preparations. Khakim had been protesting in a Sochi park, but police indicated he did not have a permit to do so.

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Jay Busbee

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