The International Olympic Committee has defended the arrest of a transgender Italian former MP who was recently seen demonstrating at the Sochi arena against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Yesterday it emerged that Vladimir Luxuria – a former member of the Italian Parliament – was arrested after she was seen holding a rainbow flag saying “Gay is OK” in Russian.

Now the IOC is defending her removal from the Sochi arena, saying she was “escorted from there peacefully” and not detained.

Spokesman Mark Adams said on Tuesday that “what happened yesterday is still a little unclear,” but added Ms Luxuria had set out to demonstrate at the women’s hockey arena inside the stadium.

“I know her stated aim to demonstrate in the venue and I believe after a couple of hours when she finally got to the venue I think she was escorted from there peacefully, not detained,” he said.

He added the IOC considers Olympic Park and the venues as inappropriate places for demonstrations.

“We would ask anyone to make their case somewhere else.”

Several LGBT campaigners have been arrested in Russia since the Winter Olympic Games started on 7 February.

Luxuria was the first transgender person ever to be elected at the Italian Parliament, where she served as an MP for the Italy’s Communist Party from 2006 to 2008.