Happy Olympics: Four Gay Rights Activists Arrested Today

February 7, 2014 | Marina Galperina

It’s the first day of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the first protestors have already been arrested in St. Petersburg. LGBTI group leader Anastasia Smirnova held the banner “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter,” calling out Russia’s anti-gay legislation as incompatible with ethical principles outlined by the International Olympic Committee. Four people have been arrested, including one pregnant woman.

A Russian police rep has confirmed the arrests, saying that the protestors will be in custody until further notice. Two LGBT rights activists were already arrested in St Petersburg two days ago, with the police aware of the protest ahead of time and detaining the activists before they could begin. A gay protestor was detained earlier this month, when he unfurled a rainbow flag for a few seconds during the torch ceremony in Voronezh, being tackled by an Olympics volunteer shortly after.

“The most alarming thing is despite the international attention, the authorities are bringing more charges under the [anti-propaganda] law,” has previously stated in a Human Rights First press release. “The law is being applied on a larger scale; we have to be prepared for a crackdown against media and social media.”

The Olympic Charter states:

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Article 6.21 actually reads:

Propaganda is the act of distributing information among minors that 1) is aimed at the creating nontraditional sexual attitudes, 2) makes nontraditional sexual relations attractive, 3) equates the social value of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations, or 4) creates an interest in nontraditional sexual relations.

That means any public display of homosexuality and any public declaration that it is ok to be gay is punishable by law:

If you’re Russian: Individuals engaging in such propaganda can be fined 4,000 to 5,000 rubles (120-150 USD), public officials are subject to fines of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles (1,200-1,500 USD), and registered organizations can be either fined (800,000-1,000,000 rubles or 24,000-30,000 USD) or sanctioned to stop operations for 90 days. If you engage in the said propaganda in the media or on the internet, the sliding scale of fines shifts: for individuals, 50,000 to 100,000 rubles; for public officials, 100,000 to 200,000 rubles, and for organizations, from one million rubles or a 90-day suspension.

If you’re an alien: Foreign citizens or stateless persons engaging in propaganda are subject to a fine of 4,000 to 5,000 rubles, or they can be deported from the Russian Federation and/or serve 15 days in jail. If a foreigner uses the media or the internet to engage in propaganda, the fines increase to 50,000-100,000 rubles or a 15-day detention with subsequent deportation from Russia.

Aside from arrests, the bill has already resulted legal persecution, violent attacks, vigilante kidnapping and torture and harassment of gay minors. The world is watching. This is day one. Let the games begin. (Image: Anastasia Smirnova)