Despite repeated assurances from Vladimir Putin that there is nothing to worry about at the Winter Olympics because of Russia’s totalitarian anti-gay laws, Olympic security personnel arrested a man who did nothing but wave a rainbow flag as the Olympic torch went by.
A gay Russian protester was detained on Saturday for unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic torch relay as it passed through his hometown of Voronezh, 560 miles north of Sochi, where the games will begin Feb. 7.
Photos uploaded by his friends show Pavel Lebedev pulling out the flag and then being detained by Olympic security personnel, who wrestle him to the snow as they wait for police to arrive. Lebedev, reached by The Associated Press on the phone, said he was still in the police station and undergoing questioning.
“Hosting the games here contradicts the basic principles of the Olympics, which is to cultivate tolerance,” Lebedev said, citing growing homophobia in Russia as the main reason for his protest.
But remember, it’s all about “protecting the children.” Because if children see a rainbow flag, they’ll immediately become gay. Or something. Also remember that American Christian right leaders are praising this law in the most adoring of terms, some of them even calling Russia the best hope of Christian civilization. Because they’re all for “smaller government,” dontchaknow.