Transgender Former MP Detained at Sochi Olympics

vladimir luxuria

Vladimir Luxuria, former Italian politician and Europe’s first out transgender parliamentarian, has told reporters she was arrested  for holding a sign bearing the slogan ‘Gay is Ok’ in Russian at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Luxuria was reportedly arrested on the night of Sunday the 16th of February by two plainclothes officers and not released until the early hours of the following Monday. She was told she was not allowed to display pro-gay slogans in public.

Luxuria spoke at a cabaret bar is Sochi after the event, and had this to say: “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 have maintained that officers had no record of Luxuria’s detention, and an officer at Sochi’s central police station told the Associated Press that they had “never had an Italian national in custody”.

“We’ve talked to police and they have told us there is no record whatsoever to any detention or arrest.” said Sochi organising comittee spokesperson Alexandra Kosterina.

Luxuria said she had been protesting Russia’s controversial law banning the spread of “gay propaganda” among minors. The law has attracted widespread criticism, with LGBT supporters stating the law discriminates against and fuels violence towards homosexual people.

Reports in Russia indicate that arrests at unauthorised rallies protesting the law are so common that the authorities are frequently swamped with paperwork, and often release those seen as minor offenders without recording the incident.

The 48 year old Luxuria was the first openly transgender member of parliament when she was elected to Italian Parliament in 2006. A staunch supporter of LGBT rights, she told reporters: “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.”

Sophie Joske

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