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LGBT activists to protest Sochi Olympics as national tour hits L.A.

Gay rights activists have planned a protest Friday afternoon in downtown as the U.S. Olympic Committee brings the Road to Sochi Tour to Los Angeles.

The group organizing the event, GetEQUAL, said in a news release that the demonstration will be peaceful but "will mince no words about the oppressive and dangerous anti-gay laws that have recently been passed in Russia."

The group also faults the International Olympic Committee for "deciding to move forward ... despite this law's clear violation of Olympic principles."

The Road to Sochi Tour is sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance and has made stops across the U.S. It includes interactive sports, such as a hockey slap shot test and a street luge ramp, among other attractions.

It is free and open to the public at L.A. Live.

The protest starts at 1 p.m. nearby.

"It's truly an honor for us to bring the Road to Sochi Tour to Olympic and Paralympic fans across the country," Paul G. Alexander, Liberty Mutual Insurance chief communications officer said on the teamusa.org website before the tour took off across the country.

The protest coincides with Friday's opening ceremonies in Sochi.

Also on Friday, but much later in the evening, many Angelenos are expected to participate in the "Uprising of Love" in West Hollywood and elsewhere.

The action is in response to what activists say was Russia forbidding the establishment of a Pride House in Sochi, a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes, fans and friends to meet.

In response, restaurants, bars and clubs across the U.S. are becoming "Pride Houses" in solidarity with LGBT Russians and donating $1 of every drink sold between 9 p.m. and midnight to the Russia Freedom Fund, according to the Uprising of Love website.

"The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is supporting this, and other initiatives to highlight the human rights abuses against LGBT Russians, because we can't allow Olympics hype to obscure what's happening to LGBT people there," said Jim Key, a representative for the center.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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