Watch: Formula 1 Champ Lewis Hamilton Critiques Saudi Arabia's Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday December 6, 2021

Seven-time world champ Formula 1 racer Lewis Hamilton slammed Saudi Arabia's "terrifying" anti-LGBTQ+ laws, and said he would not be participating in the race there this weekend by choice, Sky News reported.

Hamilton was in the city of Jeddah for a Dec. 5 race on the streets of the Saudi city. He told Sky News that "he had received a warm welcome on arrival, but felt 'duty-bound' to speak out amid human rights groups accusing Saudi Arabia of using the event to distract from scrutiny about its abuses," the outlet noted.

In his remarks, Lewis decried the country's death penalty on "people for being themselves," saying, "I don't believe in that."

"Religions can change, rules can change — rulers can change those things," the racing champ added. "They have the power to."

As an example, Lewis cited how women in Saudi Arabia were recently given the right to drive, despite having previously been forbidden to do so.

Lewis added that Formula 1 racers "don't choose where we're going; others have chosen for us to be here, so we have to make sure we're applying pressure to them to make sure they are doing right by the people in those places."

"A lot of change needs to take place and our sport needs to do more," Hamilton went on to say.

"During November's Qatar Grand Prix, Hamilton wore a helmet featuring the Pride Progress Flag (a redesigned and more inclusive version of the traditional rainbow flag) emblazoned with the words 'We Stand Together,'" CNN recalled.

The news outlet noted that Lewis sported that helmet once more during the Dec. 5 event in Jeddah.

CNN said that "activists have accused the kingdom of 'sportswashing' — a phenomenon whereby corrupt or autocratic regimes invest in sports events to whitewash their international reputation."

To watch Hamilton's comments, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.