By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com February 18 2014 4:22 PM ET
The International Olympic Committee is standing with the Russian officials who removed a group of pro-LGBT demonstrators from the Olympic village Sunday, citing the Olympic Charter's prohibition on political demonstrations in Olympic venues, according to BuzzFeed.
Among those removed was Vladimir Luxuria, a former member of Italy's Parliament, who was walking around the village for two hours Sunday, shouting and carrying signs saying "Gay is OK" and "It's OK to be gay" in English and Russian.
Luxuria, who is also the first openly transgender member of any European parliament, was strolling through the Olympic village in a rainbow dress, scarf, and headpiece when she was reportedly removed by Russian plainclothes police officers. She says she was taken to a local police station by four men — who did not show her an official badge — where she was questioned for several hours and eventually released early Monday morning.
"I was kept to take information, for a couple of hours, and then at last, a person talking English came, saying that I shouldn't show Russian writings about LGBT rights," Luxuria told Russia's Kremlin-backed news outlet RuptlyTV.
The International Olympic Committee today defended Luxuria's removal from the Olympic village, saying she was not detained by officers but rather "peacefully escorted" from the site, according to BuzzFeed. An IOC spokesman told BuzzFeed that officials would have asked anyone demonstrating to "make their case somewhere else."
Luxuria confirmed that she was not mistreated during her detention but also explained that she wanted to send a message to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who last June signed a law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships" in areas visible to minors, which has resulted in LGBT Russians and visitors being arrested, beaten, and harassed for displaying rainbow flags or pro-LGBT banners.
"I would say to Mr. Putin that [he] should show modernity," Luxuria told RuptlyTV from the Olympic village. "Not only with these beautiful buildings, but you have to be modern and open in your mind."
Watch Ruptly's report below.