Activist held over ‘gay is okay’ flag

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iol pic wld Sochi Olympics Gay Activist Arrested Associated Press In this 2008 photograph, Vladimir Luxuria, a prominent crusader for transgender rights, mimics a hanging outside St Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome during a candlelight demonstration for gay rights. File picture: Alessandra Tarantino

Sochi, Russia -

An Italian gay-rights activist says she was detained by police in the Olympic host city after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag bearing the words “Gay is okay” in Russian.

Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader, said on her website and Twitter feed that she was held for several hours on Sunday before being released. It was not known if she was charged with any offence.

Her website published a photograph of her after her release. Before her arrest, she tweeted: “I'm in Sochi. Greetings in the colours of the rainbow, in Putin's face.”

Sochi police would not comment.

Sochi organisers said on Monday they had no information of any such incident.

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

A duty officer at the central police station in Sochi told The Associated Press that they have never had an Italian national in custody.

Andrei Tanichev, the owner of Sochi's main gay club Mayak, said on Monday that Luxuria was there on Sunday night.

“(S)he was enjoying himself and even took part in the (drag) show,” Tanichev said.

Tanichev said Luxuria left on her own and he has no knowledge of the detention. - Sapa-AP

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