Sochi 2014: Gay former Italian MP Vladimir Luxuria detained in Russia for 'Gay is OK' Winter Olympics protest

Former Italian politician claims she was arrested by men in plain clothes on Sunday and not released until the early hours of Monday morning

A gay former Italian MP has told reporters she was arrested and detained by Russian police for staging a gay rights protest at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Vladimir Luxuria said she was approached by two men in plain clothes in the Olympic Park as she held up a banner with the words “Gay is OK” written on it in Russian.

She said was arrested on Sunday night, and not released until the early hours of Monday. Though officers treated her with respect during her detention, she said she was told she was not allowed to display pro-gay slogans in public.

Speaking after appearing on stage at a gay cabaret bar in Sochi, Ms Luxuria said: “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.

“They think: 'Well, it's not in our country, it's far away, it's in Russia, who cares?'”

Games organisers said today that officers had no record of Ms Luxuria's detention, and a duty officer at Sochi's central police station told a reporter with the Associated Press that they had  “never had an Italian national in custody”.

Sochi organizing committee spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina said: “We've talked to police and they have told us there is no record whatsoever to any detention or arrest.”

Ms Luxuria said she had been protesting against a law signed by President Vladimir Putin last year banning the spread of “gay propaganda” among minors. Critics say it discriminates against gays and that it has fuelled violence against homosexuals.

Reports in Russia suggested that arrests at unauthorised rallies are common, and that officers are regularly so swamped with paperwork that they will detain and then release those seen as minor offenders without registering the incident.

Ms Luxuria, 48, was the first openly transgender member of any European parliament when she was elected as an Italian MP in 2006.

She is a prominent defender of gay rights, and said that she would be back out to keep making her voice heard later on Monday.

She told Reuters: “I tell you, if ... I don't have the opportunity to have a flag with 'It's OK to be gay' written on it I will shout it,” she said. “I know how to say it in Russian.”.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said: “We hope that the Games will not be used as a platform for demonstrations.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee