Athletes show support for gay rights

Two Swedish athletes make a discreet show of support for Russia’s gay community at the Moscow World Championships.

Emma Green Tregaro
Green-Tregaro said her fingernails were less a protest but ‘more of a statement of what I think.’ [EPA]

A Swedish high jumper at the world championships competed with her fingernails painted in the colours of the rainbow on Thursday, showing support for gays and lesbians in the face of a new anti-gay law recently passed in Russia.

Emma Green Tregaro, who won a bronze medal at the 2005 worlds, posted a picture of her fingers on social media site Instagram, saying “Nails painted in the colours of the rainbow.”

She followed that with several hashtags, including “(hash)pride” and “(hash)moscow2013.”

“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,” Green Tregaro said in a video posted on the website of Swedish newspaper Expressen.

“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,”

Swedish sprinter Moa Hjelmer also had her nails painted in the rainbow colours Thursday when she ran in the 200m heats at Luzhniki Stadium.

“Some teammates have done the same,” Sweden team spokesman Fredrik Trahn said.

“The federation has not discussed it. It is all up to the athletes.”

‘Nice gesture’

Hjelmer was eliminated from the heats in the 200, but Green Tregaro qualified for the final of the women’s high jump and will return to the track on Saturday.

“This is to show what I stand for. I think sports are about respecting and tolerating each other, so I thought it was a nice gesture,” Green Tregaro told Swedish news agency TT.

“If I can show it in such a simple way as just painting my nails in the colours of the rainbow, it feels like a very small thing that can hopefully spread some happiness.”

A rainbow flag is often used as a symbol of gay rights and gay pride, an issue that has gained attention from Western activists and entertainers since Russia’s anti-gay law was passed in June.

Some have even called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Russian resort of Sochi.

The law does not explicitly ban participation in gay pride parades or promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality online, but anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandising.

Both the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, which will hold its World Cup in Russia in 2018, have asked the Russian government for more clarification.

It remains unclear if the new law will be enforced during the Sochi Olympics or the World Cup.

Source: AP