QUEER VOICES

Russian LGBT Activists Arrested Under 'Gay Propaganda' Law In St. Petersburg

FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 file photo a Russian gay rights activist walks along a police line during a rally at a M
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 file photo a Russian gay rights activist walks along a police line during a rally at a Moscow boulevard. When the Sochi Winter Olympics begin on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, many will be watching to see whether Russia will enforce its law banning gay ?propaganda? among minors if athletes, fans or activists wave rainbow flags or speak out in protest. The message so far has been confusing. (AP Photo/ Alexander Zemlianichenko, file)

Russia's controversial "gay propaganda" laws continue to dominate international headlines ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, with news that authorities have detained four rights advocates in St. Petersburg.

As The Washington Blade is reporting, activists Anastasia Smirnova, Aleksandra Semenova and a pregnant woman are among the four taken into custody Feb. 7 after allegedly trying to take photographs of themselves holding a banner which read, "Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic movement. Principle 6. Olympic charter."

The publication cited the Russian LGBT Network's Facebook page as the sources of the information, although further details on the arrests were scarce. A police spokesperson confirmed the arrests to Gay Star News, saying the group would "be held until further notice,: but answered no additional questions.

An anonymous activist who claimed to have witnessed the arrests told Buzzfeed's J. Lester Feder, "Either the phones are being listened to or maybe there are cameras all over the city; only a few people knew about this action."

News of the arrests comes just ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The controversial Russia legislation, which bans "pro-gay propaganda" that could be accessible to minors, has been condemned by international celebrities, athletes and politicians alike.

Last month, newspaper editor Alexander Suturin was fined for publishing an interview with a gay school teacher who defended homosexuality as normal, according to the Associated Press.

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