Moscow: Police arrest LGBT campaigners over Olympic protest

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Police in Moscow arrested several LGBT rights activists earlier this week who were protesting outside Russia’s Olympic headquarters in the capital.

The campaigners were attempting to stage a protest as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began its final inspection of facilities in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are due to be held next year.

Nikolai Alexeyev, head of the campaign group Gay Russia, was one those detained.

Sky News reports he later announced on Twitter that all the activists had been released, but now faced heavy fines for attending an illegal protest.

Russia has come under scrutiny as the next host of the Winter Olympics because of laws passed this summer outlawing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” which LGBT campaigners worry may apply to gay athletes and visitors to the Games.

On Thursday, the IOC said they were satisfied Russia’s anti-gay laws do not threaten the Olympic Charter.

“Everything is really magnificent,” said IOC Co-ordination Committee Chairman Jean-Claude Killy.

Gay British actor Sir Ian McKellen has described the legislation as “appalling” – but does not believe boycotting the Games is the answer.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Sir Ian said: “If we were to not hold the Games because of internal politics of the country in question – probably they would never take place (anywhere).”

Boycotts could be staged for a whole host of other concerns, such as “America’s foreign policy”, the actor suggested.

“As a gay man, it is absolutely appalling to me that this law has been passed, which would inhibit me and any gay athletes who go to Russia for the Winter Olympics to be simply themselves”.