The Italian Almanac

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Vladimir Luxuria

It's OK to be Gay

Italian transgender ex-MP Vladimir Luxuria was detained for the second consecutive day after she defied Russian police and the country's law against gay propaganda with continued protests at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Shouting to media cameras: "It's Ok to be gay," Luxuria, a veteran gay-rights activist, wore the rainbow colours of the gay flag during her protest outside an Olympic hockey game.

Her detention with two TV presenters from a satirical Italian program Le Iene (The Hyenas) came one day after she was detained by police and later released without charge for showing a banner with the same slogan -"it's OK to be gay" - printed in Russian. Witnesses said the trio were taken away in an unmarked car.

Luxuria, a television personality who became Italy's first openly transgender MP in 2006, is protesting against Russia's laws outlawing gay propaganda in the presence of children promoted by the government of President Vladimir Putin. Human rights and gay activists say they fear the law criminalizes homosexuality because it is so broad.

Luxuria said the first time she was detained, she was interviewed in a barracks, where "they asked me to not show writings linked to gay propaganda". Some Russians she met were not familiar with the rainbow flag, "and many girls have mistaken me for a fairy and they asked to be photographed with me," said Luxuria.