Russia: Finnish minister waves rainbow flag at Moscow athletics, despite anti-gay laws

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

The Finnish minister for culture and sports attended the World Athletic Championships in Moscow last week, and on Saturday, despite harsh anti-gay laws, flew a rainbow flag at the event.

The Finnish media reports that Paavo Arhinmäki flew the flag whilst watching the women’s high jump final, which featured Sweden’s Emma Green-Tregaro, who made her own show of support for LGBT Russians.

High jumper Emma Green-Tregaro, 28, made the show of support for Russia’s LGBT community on Thursday by painting her nails in the rainbow colours for the qualifying round of the event. At the final, she changed her nails to red “for love”, after being advised that she may have broken the code of conduct.

Arhinmäki also said that he raised the issue of the anti-gay law with the Russian sports minister on Saturday. He said that LGBT oppression is part of a wider human rights problem in Russia, and called for long-term solutions.

Also at Moscow,  US track and field star Nick Symmonds, who earlier this week dedicated a silver medal to gay and lesbian people, has spoken out against Russian anti-gay laws, saying they have started the “defining civil rights movement of our time”.

Ms Isinbayeva, an ambassador for next year’s Winter Olympics to be staged in Sochi, recently came under controversy for saying she supported the Russian anti-gay laws.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said they are currently seeking “clarification” from Russia on how the law will be applied.

On Monday, the Russian Interior Ministry confirmed that recently introduced anti-gay legislation will remain in force during the Sochi games.

A petition which has gathered over 150,000 signatures, calls for the 2014 games to be relocated to Vancouver, following the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.

In an interview last week, a senior International Olympics Committee member said: “Russia must respect the Olympic Charter, or we will say goodbye to them”, broaching the question of relocating the games with the IOC for the first time.