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Gay rights activist wearing rainbow outfit, headdress arrested at Olympic Park

Monday, February 17, 2014
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Vladimir Luxuria

Steve Barker, AP
Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament and prominent crusader for transgender rights, walks in Olympic Park at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Luxuria said she was detained by police at the Olympics after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag that read in Russian: “Gay is OK.” Police on Monday denied this happened.

Updated: 2:30 p.m. EST

SOCHI, Russia — An Italian activist shouting “It’s OK to be gay” and dressed in a rainbow-colored outfit and large headdress was detained Monday as she entered an arena to watch an Olympic hockey game.

Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader and television personality, was stopped by four men and then driven away by police in a car with Olympic markings.

It was not known where she was taken.

Luxuria had been walking around the Olympic Park in Sochi for about two hours. She was shouting “Gay is OK” and “It’s OK to be gay” in both English and Russian.

As she was being led away from Shayba Arena, she was shouting “I have a ticket.”

Luxuria earlier said she was detained on Sunday evening by Russian police who told her she should not wear clothes with slogans supporting gay rights. Police denied detaining her.

On Monday, the Italian activist walked around the Olympic Park with a group of journalists, attracting onlookers. Some Russian fans stopped to pose for photos with her.

Luxuria and her colorful outfit did not attract much negative reaction except for a group of young Russian men who shouted to television cameras in broken English: “Trans not good.”

Luxuria arrived at a ticket inspection barrier at the hockey arena just before an evening game was due to begin. She passed through the barrier and was being given directions to her seat when four men who were not wearing any identification surrounded her and started shouting “take her away.” They then led her out of the venue and to the parking lot.

Before she went to the stadium, Luxuria said she did not want to be arrested.

“It’s not nice to be all alone in a room with a neon light not knowing what’s going on,” she said, but then added it was important for her “to stand up for the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people all over the world.”

It was not immediately clear why Luxuria was detained, although last year, the Russian parliament passed a law banning “propaganda” of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.

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