Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton has worn a rainbow-coloured pride helmet and spoken out for LGBTIQ equality at Qatar’s inaugural Grand Prix.
Qatar hosted its first Formula One Grand Prix at the weekend, as part of a new 10-year deal. But human rights activists have slammed that deal.
Amnesty International accused the Formula One of “sportswashing” the country’s “extremely troubling” human rights record.
In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal under penalty of prison or flogging. The country’s Sharia courts also threaten gay Muslims with the death penalty.
At the Grand Prix, seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton wore a helmet emblazoned with the design of the colourful Progress Pride flag.
The design includes the rainbow with extra colours recognising LGBTIQ diversity.
The helmet also featured the yellow and purple design of the intersex flag.
Hamilton posted a picture of the rainbow-coloured helmet to social media, writing, “We stand together”. His Mercedes team also shared photos.
‘Equal rights is a serious issue’
Ahead of the race, Lewis Hamilton explained he and other drivers are “aware there are issues in these places” where they compete.
“But of course [Qatar] seems to be deemed as one of the worst in this part of the world,” he said.
“As sports go to these places, I think they’re duty-bound to raise awareness of these issues.
“These places need scrutiny from the media to speak about these things. Equal rights is a serious issue.”
We stand together. pic.twitter.com/F3hKZwVLyN
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 19, 2021
Hamilton later added, “I will be using the same helmet through probably the last two races after this, or at least next week also.
“On the back, it says ‘We Stand Together’ and ‘Love Is Love’. It’s important for me to support [the LGBT+] community here. I know there are several situations here [that] need to be highlighted.
“I would love to know what is happening here and what they’re doing to help that community more, the LGBT+ community.”
Lewis Hamilton praised for ‘incredible act of allyship’
British racing driver Richard Morris is co-founder of the Racing Pride advocacy group.
Morris said Lewis Hamilton’s gesture “an incredible act of allyship” in a place where “LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and challenges to their human rights.”
“It’s a demonstration of the capacity the sport has to use its platform positively to promote values of inclusion around the world,” he told the Press Association.
“When I was growing up and getting into motorsport there weren’t any LGBTQ+ out drivers I could to look up to.
“Nobody in the sport was discussing or showing support for LGBTQ+ inclusion.
“So it fills me with hope that we are now seeing drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel be active champions for inclusion.
“There’s a lot more work to be done in the sport. But we’re starting to move in the right direction.”
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