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
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.