Finnish Olympic Swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen comes out gay

Tue. February 4, 2014 10:27 AM by

Finnish Olympic Swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen came out gay on Monday.

Liukkonen, who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics, for the first time publicly announced his sexual orientation in an interview with Yle, Finland's national public broadcasting company, saying he was opposed to Russia's anti-gay law which prohibits the promotion of "gay propaganda" to minors.

"I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi," Liukkonen said of his coming out. "Because it's sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others."

The 24-year-old Liukkonen is the first Finnish athlete to come out while remaining active in his career.

He said that he came out two years ago to his sister and last month to his parents, who "received the news positively."

Liukkonen, who is training for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio, Brazil, said that being gay is "the same kind of characteristic as whether a person has blue or brown eyes, or whether they are left- or right-handed."

"It's a really great feeling that I can finally be myself," he added.

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