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2014 Winter Olympics

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Russia: Gay rights activists arrested during Winter Olympics opening ceremony

Protestors hold up their red-painted hands to symbolize violence against the gay community during a protest against Russian anti-gay laws opposite the Russian embassy on August 23, 2013 in Madrid, Spain
(Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

It didn't take long for Russia's anti-gay law to become a social focus of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. As reported by the Associated Press on Feb. 7, Russian police acted quickly in arresting four gay rights activists in St. Petersburg who were protesting the controversial law on the opening day of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

According to the report, the four activists unfolded a banner quoting the Olympic Charter's ban on any form of discrimination. But the action alone violated the law, which prohibits any kind of gay rights promotion, and the four were detained immediately.

One of the protesters belong to the gay rights group All Out. The organization emailed a statement to CBS news.

"We just learned that 4 gay rights activists were arrested in St. Petersburg - including All Out's long-term contact and friend Anastasia Smirnova - for taking photos with a banner referring to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter 'Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement."

Russian police haven't released a statement regarding the arrest, but the Russian law banning gay "propaganda" from reaching minors has taken attention away from the Winter Olympics as more focus has taken aim at the country's human rights policies and treatment of the LGBT community.

Although the law has drawn criticism globally, within Russia, the law has been celebrated in a country where homophobia is prevalent. Under the law, anyone who violates the ban on unsanctioned protests may face fines or prison sentences.

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