By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com October 05 2013 9:21 PM ET
The Olympic flame has started its voyage from Athens to Sochi and already the Russian version of the games is being met with protest over the country's antigay laws.
The Los Angeles Times reports that "a few dozen" protestors rallied in Athens. Reuters reports that the activists raised a rainbow flag outside the Acropolis.
The Greek LGBT youth group "Colour Youth" promoted the protest and participants reportedly held banners reading "Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit" and "Love is not Propaganda."
"Russia receives the Olympic flame, a globally recognized symbol of humanitarian ideals," the group said in a statement reported by Reuters. "Yet the laws in Russia are far from the ideals of human rights when it comes to LGBTQ people, who are tortured, abused and discriminated against. We choose not to be silent this day."
The Olympic flame will now travel six days across Greece before handed over the Russians for an even longer trek that ends in Sochi in February.
Colour Youth isn't the only LGBT advocacy group hoping the torch relay will become a way to raise awareness about Russia's antigay laws. Human Rights First called on the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, a Russian who will be part of the torch relay, to speak out against the laws.
"Alex Ovechkin’s talents are revered on both sides of the Atlantic, but his fan home base is split between Moscow and Washington, D.C.,” said Human Rights First’s Innokenty Grekov in a statement. “Alex will carry the Olympic torch not just for Russia, but for the Washington Capitals as well, and he should remember that he represents a district where same-sex marriage equality was achieved in 2009, and that he has many fans in the LGBT community of D.C.”
Activist have also been considering what kinds of protests can be done to coincide with the Opening Ceremonies, where the flame will take center stage.
Photos from the protest:
#Loveisnotpropaganda #Equality #Olympics #LGBT #Russia pic.twitter.com/6PGIbs6KPM
— David Robertson (@101flyboy) October 5, 2013
Standing behind the Olympic Flame gay activists hold rainbow flags and placards as they protest a... http://t.co/ZyoPnmDGVA via @YahooNews
— Colour Youth (@colouryouth) October 5, 2013
Μουσείο Ακρόπολης τωρα: διαμαρτυρία γκαιυ ακτιβιστών σε κάποια απο τις τελετές παράδοσης Ολυμπιακής φλόγας pic.twitter.com/qPmvoIP1gk
— VivianEfthimiopoulou (@vivian_e) October 5, 2013