Finnish Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen came out as gay Feb 3 to raise awareness about gay-rights restrictions in Russia.
As a swimmer, Liukkonen does not compete in the Winter Olympics. He ranked 25th in men’s 50-metre freestyle in the London Summer Olympics in 2012.
“I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others," he told GLAAD. "I hope that in Finland we can get to the stage where we don’t need to talk about this anymore as soon as possible."
Liukkonen is the first high-level Finnish athlete to come out during his career.