Formula One star Lewis Hamilton showcased his LGBTQ+ allyship ahead of the first annual Grand Prix race in Saudi Arabia.
Over the weekend, the beloved seven-time F1 champion competed in Saudi Arabia’s first Grand Prix in Jeddah.
Before hitting the track, the 36-year-old condemned the country’s terrifying anti-LGBTQ+ laws and said drivers don’t have a choice where Grand Prix are being held.
“We don’t choose where we’re going, others have chosen for us to be here, so we have to apply the pressure on them to make sure that they are doing right by the people in those places, sparking conversations, creating that uncomfortable discussion that is needed in these places,” he told Sky Sports.
“Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say that I do. But it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken the choice to be here.”
He went on to say that he was “duty-bound” to speak out against the injustices that the LGBTQ+ community face in the conservative country.
“[For the LGBTQ+ community] there’s prison time, death penalty and restrictions from people for being themselves, and I don’t believe in that,” Hamilton said.
“Religions can change, rules can change, rulers can change those things. They have the power to.”
In 2019, a report titled Polarized Progress: Social Acceptance of LGBT People in 141 Countries found that Saudi Arabia was one of the ten countries who are least accepting of LGBTQ+ people.
Male and female same-sex activity is still illegal in the country and LGBTQ+ rights are not recognised by the government.
The law also punishes those who cross-dress, with punishments ranging from fines, floggings, life in prison, death and torture.
View this post on Instagram
This isn’t the first time that Hamilton has expressed his support for the LGBTQ+ community.
Last month, while competing at the first annual Qatar Grand Prix, the British driver wore a Pride flag on his helmet with the quote “We Stand Together” in solidarity with the community.
Back in July, he called out the Hungarian government for passing a law that bans “content promoting gender change or homosexuality” within the school’s curriculum.
“To all in this beautiful country Hungary. Ahead of the Grand Prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government anti-LGBTQ+ law,” he said.
“It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power [to suggest] such a law. Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves no matter who they love or how they identify.”
Hamilton’s statement even sparked a response from Orbán’s justice minister Judit Varga who criticised the F1 driver for “fake news.”
“I have sadly seen that Lewis Hamilton is also joining the camp of international fake news manufacturers by attacking our child protection law,” Varga told Kronen Zeitung.
“I suggest that Lewis Hamilton should read the Hungarian Child Protection Act. And then the shoemaker should stick to making shoes and an F1 driver should stick to driving.”
View this post on Instagram