At least two Swedish athletes have risked arrest by painting their nails in rainbow colours at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in support of Russia’s LGBT community.
According to AP, pole-vaulter Emma Green Tregaro and sprinter Moa Hjelmer both sported rainbow coloured nails at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital on Thursday.
Tregaro posted a picture of her hand with the painted nails on instagram, commenting, “Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow,” with the hashtags “#pride” and “#moscow2013”.
In a video posted on Swedish newspaper Expressen’s website, she said: “The first thing that happened when I came to Moscow and pulled my curtains aside was that I saw the rainbow and that felt a little ironic. Then I had a suggestion from a friend on Instagram that maybe I could paint my nails in the colours of the rainbow and that felt like a simple, small thing that maybe could trigger some thoughts.”
While the two athletes were not arrested, which could be possible under Russia’s new gay propaganda law, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva slammed the women’s actions and said that homosexuality was abnormal.
“It’s disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians,” Isinbayeva, who is one of world’s leading athletes, said at a news conference.
“Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful.”
She went on to add: “We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys … it comes from the history. I hope the problem won’t ruin our Olympic Games in Sochi.”
Under the gay propaganda law, foreigners who display any public support for gay rights that might be seen by minors could be arrested for up to 14 days before being thrown out of Russia. Recent polls have shown that the Russian public overwhelming backs the recently enacted law.
The passing of the law has led to a growing boycott of Russian products by LGBT people around the world as well as calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi next year.
The IOC has warned that the Olympics are not a platform for political expression. Activists argue that expressing one’s natural sexual orientation is not a political action.