Olympic police today re-arrested former Italian member of parliament Vladimir Luxuria for wearing an outfit that was deemed a bit too “gay” for the Sochi Olympics.
Luxuria was wearing rainbow-colored clothing, and a rainbow wig. She was arrested while walking to her seat at an Olympic hockey game.
The rainbow is now legally suspect in Russia since the passage last year of a draconian anti-gay law that bans what the Russians call “gay propaganda.” In reality, the law bans anything – speech, clothing or actions – that might give the impression that being gay is okay.
For example, the flag of Russia’s autonomous Jewish region came under scrutiny from Moscow because it contains a rainbow. And a newspaper editor was recently fined three-month’s pay for quoting a gay person in a news story in which the gay person defended themselves for having been fired based on their sexual orientation. And under similar legislation in St. Petersburg, a man was arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders.
AP reports that Luxuria, who is a famous Italian gay and trans rights activist, was taken away in a car with Olympic markings, making this the second the time the Olympics has done Russian President Putin’s dirty work by arresting LGBT rights activists for daring to show the rainbow.
The previous time was about a month ago when a young Russian was detained by Olympic security sporting a Coca-Cola logo, for waving a rainbow flag during the official relay of the Olympic torch. The gay dissident was then turned over to the Russian police who took him into custody. Coke later defended the arrest of the human rights advocate.
Luxuria was also arrested last night for carrying a sign saying “gay is okay” in Italian. Luxuria reports that she was detained by Russian police in a room with lights shining in her face, interrogation-style. The Russian police deny even taking her in, and the IOC, which never met a dictator it couldn’t embrace, believed the Russians:
“We have talked to police,” Alexandra Kosterina, a spokesman for the Russian Olympic Organizing Committee, said Monday, “and, according to police, there is no record whatsoever of any detention or arrest.”
Also today, a demonstration was held in Rome outside the Russian embassy, to protest the detention of Luxuria.