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Activists stage protest as Olympic flame handed over to Russian organizers

Olympics
Kostas Tsironis, AP
Gay activists kiss as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis' museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.Photo: AP

ATHENS, Greece — A few dozen activists staged a peaceful protest Saturday against Russia’s law banning gay propaganda as the Olympic flame was handed to organizers of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Some held rainbow flags, while others held a banner reading “Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit” and “Love is not Propaganda.”

Another banner mentioned “Putin’s victims” allegedly beaten, raped or murdered for being gay.

Olympics
Kostas Tsironis, AP
Gay activists hold rainbow flags and placards as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis’ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.
Olympics
Kostas Tsironis, AP
Gay activists kiss as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis’ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

“The Olympics should have taken a stand against this law in Russia because the Olympic ideals are for supporting human rights and diversity and that’s not what’s happening in Russia,” said protester Zak Kostopoulos.

In a ceremony at the site of the first modern summer games, the same actress, dressed as a high priestess, who lit the flame in Ancient Olympia last Sunday, lit a torch from a cauldron placed inside Athens’ Panathinaiko Stadium.

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The flame, placed in a lantern, was handed over to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

After a seven-day run through Greece, the flame will cover 40,000 miles on Russian soil. The record-setting relay will start on Monday in Moscow, in a ceremony attended by Russia President Vladimir Putin, and will finish in Sochi on Feb. 7, the opening day of the games.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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