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Russia: Italian former MP says she was arrested during protest

Sochi Games organizers say police have no record of Vladimir Luxuria’s detention

Italian trans activist and former MP Vladimir Luxuria says police detained her as she protested Russia’s gay-propaganda law at the Sochi Games. Credit: media.tvblog.it

An Italian former member of parliament says police arrested her as she protested Russia’s gay-propaganda law during the Sochi Games, but Olympic organizers say there is no record of her detention, The Independent reports.

According to the report, Vladimir Luxuria, the first out transgender MP of any European parliament and a well-known activist and TV host, was holding a banner with the words “Gay is OK” in Russian when she was detained Feb 16. Luxuria, who says she was released in the early hours of Feb 17, told media that she was advised that she was not permitted to publicly display gay-friendly slogans.

But Luxuria indicated that she would continue to voice her solidarity with LGBT Russians, telling Reuters that if she couldn’t hold a flag with supportive words written on it she would shout them.

After appearing at a gay bar in Sochi, she added, “I think it is important . . . (to have) the opportunity to talk internationally about these things because otherwise these things happen in Russia and nobody knows, nobody cares.”

As the Games were about to get underway, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a less restrictive order than one handed down last August governing demonstrations during the Winter Games, but authorities still had to sign off on any public gatherings or protests before they could take place in designated areas, while the number of people allowed to participate in protests would be restricted.

Athletes had also received conflicting messages about what they could say and where during the Games.