Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Hamilton criticises Saudi Arabia’s “terrifying” LGBTQ+ laws and stance on women’s rights

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton described Saudi Arabia’s LGBTQ+ laws as “terrifying” and raised concerns over women’s rights in the country, which is holding its first Formula 1 race this weekend.

F1 has been accused of facilitating ‘sportswashing’ by hold a race in a country which has been criticised for its human rights record. The Mercedes driver says he feels “comfortable” in Saudi Arabia but stated it is F1’s choice to go there and not his.

Hamilton wore a new helmet with a ‘Progress Pride’ flag design at the last race in Qatar, drawing attention to a range of groups that are under-represented and discriminated against. He intends to continue wearing it this weekend and at the following round in Abu Dhabi.

“As I said at the last race, I feel that the sport and we are duty bound to make sure that we try to help raise awareness for certain issues that we see, particularly human rights, in these countries that we’re going to,” said Hamilton.

“With the utmost respect for everyone that’s here, I’ve so far had a warm welcome from the people on the ground. I can’t pretend to be the most knowledgeable or have the the deepest understanding of someone that, particularly, has grown up in the community here that is heavily affected by certain rules and the regime.

“Do I feel comfortable here? I [wouldn’t] say I do. But it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken a choice to be here.

“Whether it’s right or wrong, I think whilst we are here, again, I feel like it’s important that we do try to raise awareness. So in the last race, for example, you saw the helmet that I wore. I will wear that again here and in the next race because that is an issue and is a law.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can be punished by flogging and imprisonment. “If anyone wants to take the time to go and read what the law is for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s pretty terrifying,” said Hamilton. “There’s changes that need to be made.”

Hamilton also pointed out that relaxations in some restrictions on women’s rights, including the former ban on women being allowed to drive, had not led to those who violated past laws being pardoned.

“For example, women’s rights of being able to drive [since] 2018,” he said. “Some of the women are still in prison from driving many, many years ago.

“So there’s a lot of change that needs to happen, and I think our sport needs to do more.”

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147 comments on “Hamilton criticises Saudi Arabia’s “terrifying” LGBTQ+ laws and stance on women’s rights”

    1. some racing fan
      3rd December 2021, 5:30

      +4

    2. -11 Hypocrisy

  1. Well said, Lewis.

    Keep going. This is important stuff and F1 is too greedy to say it.

    1. Talk is fine, but action is best. I love what Vettel is doing organizing the women’s first karting race in Saudi Arabia. That’s the sort of thing that works, not just talking down to an egomaniacal government that won’t respond to the chiding of a foreign athlete.

      1. Big corp’ and leftist? I’d suggest that you are being quite delusional. Come again?

        1. Ever heard of the words Us3ful !di0ts.

          Go and check it out.

  2. Yet both he and Vettel have no problem with participating in Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Maybe Hamilton should follow what was written on his own t-shirt “Actions speak louder than words!” and boycott the race? Nope, virtue signalling while doing nothing of actual substance is the way to go for these multimillionaires and tax avoiders.

    But it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken a choice to be here.

    No, Hamilton – you are a COWARD because no one forces you to be there. But actual action – missing the race – would mean big financial penalty and losing the championship, which are of course more important than human rights.

    1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      2nd December 2021, 16:09

      @airchairexpert Wow! What planet are you on? He can’t skip races, he is under contract. But he can raise his voice in support of minority groups, that is entirely laudable: in fact, multiple organisations asked him to do just that.

      1. He absolutely can skip races if he wants to. How long have you been watching F1? It seems not long enough, because in 2017 Alonso skipped Monaco GP, so it absolutely can happen if there’s will. But Hamilton is all words, no action, like a modern preaching coward they all are. Also, you just stated contract is more important than human rights, which is just astonishing admission. “Yes, they stone gays in this country, but I have a contract and that’s the only thing that matters”. Pathetic.

        1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
          2nd December 2021, 16:30

          @armchairexpert Alonso didn’t ‘skip’ Monaco, he took part in the Indy 500 in a McLaren, i.e. for his team.

          No-one but you has asked Hamilton to boycott Saudi Arabia, he was asked to use his voice to raise concerns, which he has done in the strongest terms. Hamilton has a legal contract with Mercedes, that means the team requires him to race in SA. That doesn’t mean F1 is more important than human rights, it just limits his legal scope for highlighting human rights issues. He has does everything reasonably within his power to do so.

          When Stirling Moss raced in South Africa in the 50s he waved to the segregated black crowd, and only to that portion of the crowd, for every lap of the race. Drivers can’t just throw away championship points as they feel, but they can make their feelings known. Would you call Sir Stirling Moss a coward? I hope not.

          1. It precisely proves money is more important than human rights to the likes of Hamilton, Vettel, FIA or FOM. It’s especially funny when today we can read that

            As its rift with China over the Peng Shuai case deepened Thursday, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association said he was suspending all tournaments in the country’s mainland and Hong Kong because some things are “bigger than money.”

            Explain that, please. It’s clear Hamilton rates his bank account and racing accolades higher than dismembered journalist or punished homosexuals, because “Actions speak louder than words!” and we see which course of action he chose.

          2. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            3rd December 2021, 7:01

            @armchairexpert you think there’s a parallel between the WTA (a sporting body) and an individual sportsperson? Be serious! Why are you singling out Hamilton rather than raging at the FIA? That is the correct parallel. I hope I’ve explained that clearly.

          3. @armchairexpert

            I am curious.

            Can you perhaps enlighten us on all the activities you are undertaking to bring tolerance and understanding to that (or any) part of the world?

            I worked there for years building and running an Electronics Institute for BAE.

            I do not recall hearing from you over that time.

            Only when Hamilton appears it would seem. I wonder why that is?

        2. Yes, he should be like Max. Not care one iota about human rights abuses as it doesn’t affect him.

        3. You’re blaming Lewis for the actions of F1. He’s right to speak out against SA’s horrible human rights record -and it’s up to him to decide how far he’s willing to go in support of that.

          In my experience, this sort of post is rarely made because the poster actually wants to see more action against the perpetrating country. It’s usually an attempt to invalidate the criticism entirely, by demanding unrealistic sacrifices of anyone who dares to criticize. For example, your demand that Lewis violate his contracts with Mercedes and sacrifice his championship.

          1. Precisely. All these cowardly criticisms of Lewis’ campaigning are nothing more than a smokescreen from people who’d rather see the whole issue ignored. It’s just a shabby tool to mask their own indifference to the suffering of others.

            I lived in South Africa during the ’70s and ’80s. As the international boycott picked up steam it attracted the usual garbage arguments about ‘keeping politics out of sport’. But it hurt exactly the right people, and stung a lot. And it was a critical element in the general deligitimisation that eventaully led to the banks pulling out and forcing de Klerk’s hand. Saudi Arabia is a different situation, but they’re not immune to international criticism and flying the rainbow flag at one of their most high-profile sporting events is leading to a lot of talk they’d rather not happen.

      2. I think your missing the point entirely. It’s far better to speak up than do nothing at all. These things aren’t digital and any changes certainly won’t be. Don’t criticise somebody for doing something when it’s far better than nothing. Personally I think Sebs approach was a better one than statements, but that is not meant to detract from the statements that Kewis is making.

      3. This is a spectacularly dishonest, bad faith response.

        1. So was the post I was responding to. Even moreso.

      4. he literally said “But actual action – missing the race – would mean big financial penalty”, and hyprocritically that is “of course more important than human rights.”.

        Yet he asked him what planet is he on?

    2. What an ignorant diatribe. He’s an employee of a company which employees thousands of people, whose income and families depend on the results he delivers. He’s doing his job and using his global platform to raise awareness of a very important topic.
      What have you done to raise awareness on human rights to a global audience?

      1. What is more important TO YOU: stoning gays/dismembering journalists/human rights or Mercedes contract?

        1. @armchairexpert Let’s pretend for a moment that you didn’t see my question and in fact leading global awareness on human rights from your keyboard, and that you won’t be watching the race this weekend in protest.
          In answer to your question, i wasn’t aware the two things were connected, but why cite a Mercedes contract specifically? If you feel so strongly about it, surely you’d be advocating ALL drivers boycotting the race? Or do you only pick on those courageous enough to put themselves forward and raise awareness? May be you see it a sign of strength to turn a blind eye, say nothing, keep a low profile. Which is more cowardly?

          1. There’s no better action by a superstar to raise awareness on human rights than boycotting a country that ordered dismemberment of a journalist. And yes, there should be no grand prix held in Saudi Arabia if FOM/FIA/Hamilton follow BS virtue signalling they all spouted last few years about “Racing as One”. Unfortunately we all can see they are all hypocrites worshipping only one god – King Mammon.

            Personally, I don’t care. I detest hypocrisy though, so Hamilton and Vettel can choke on their empty platitudes which change nothing. “Actions speak louder than words!”

          2. @armchairexpert if you feel so strongly about it may I suggest boycotting F1 and not tuning in to the sessions this weekend (or for any race weekend which doesn’t align with your beliefs.) viewership is an important metric in F1, not just for the rights holders but also the teams who rely in it for sponsorship.

        2. Will you be watching the race?

    3. Aren’t you an absolute joy

    4. Telling Hamilton and Vettel to not race is like telling protestors to stay home and support their cause from their couches. When they speak up about the issues in these countries that they are invited, it is much more meaningful. Don’t forget Saudi Arabia issued visas and provided documents to allow them in these countries whether they liked what they say or not. @Armchair Expert Let’s see how long it will take them to make you dissapear if you go to Saudi Arabia and bad mouth their wrong doings openly. But you rather like to be an edgelord in front of your computer far far away.

      1. is it? is the same?
        do you think for any of us on this website we will consume the story any differently whether they are at home or in saudi arabia? no, we’ll sit in front of our screens like blobs consuming sensationalized headlines

    5. It’s obvious you follow max, where is his voice from the last GP. Hats off to Hamilton he does not shun away when asked a question. These issues are bigger than F1. Only a few very few open their mouth from the whole F1 circus. This government bone sawed a human being not a hundred years ago, no my friend more like 2. Flip let that sink in. And when his blood was wet on the floor they hire people to wash and put a recoat of paint. Flippin he’ll. Let’s leave the other issue out cause this good go all weekend till race time. Thank you Hamilton for the little you do. Big game players.

    6. @airchairexpert – I would bet if LH saved your life, you would find a reason to complain about something he did wrong.

      It takes a lot of courage to speak up about issues on the world stage. It takes no courage to whine hiding behind your keyboard.

    7. Totally agree, talk is cheap. Hamilton and Vettel could have organised a driver strike or threatened not to turn up months earlier to try and a) force the FIA to reject SA as a venue or b) force a closer global look in the practices of the Saudi regime.
      At the moment it just looks like good PR for their brands.

    8. David is sick of excuses from you greedy people
      2nd December 2021, 18:14

      Armchair Expert, I’m with you. You raise a LOT of GREAT points.
      To address a few points
      Hamilton (and I guess Vettlel) of COURSE has a choice. He has chosen to remain an employee and collect his paycheque so he can live his cushy live rather than actually take an uncomfortable action to move the needle in the direct he wants
      “Asking hamilton and vettel not to race is like asking protestors to go home” I would be interested to hear how you articulate the reason behind this comment. Hamilton and Vettel have HUGE audiences through social media. Them boycotting a race would create WAY more prominent headlines than just shouting some hollow words and then hopping in the car.
      Comments calling each other out in the comments about “what have you done?” what is this? 1. Think of the audience reach of these drivers and the impacts their actions could have. 2. I treat every single people with the utmost respect every day with all my actions. if each and every one of us did that, this wouldn’t even be an issue.
      Lastly, Armchair expert mentions its all about money. Isn’t that so true. I’ve been saying that the past few weeks with other issues and isn’t that so clear here.

    9. Agree. I love Lewis, but he should man up and not race. He has a ton of championships. What’s another when he is supporting the human rights abuses by showing up.

    10. Have you organised a local protest to boycott the race? What date and time is your flight to Jeddah?

    11. No, Hamilton – you are a COWARD

      Having seen what has been happening to those that have spoken out in Saudi @armchairexpert I think it’s quite brave.

      Where’s your criticism of Gasly, or Kimi, or Tsnuoda, Seb, or Schumacher for racing there? Come on let’s have it…

    12. I would love to see some action next to the useful talking. But is mere up to FIA and Liberty. We race as one is apparently a Marketing statement only. Again confirming one of the most hollow and tainted seasons this V6 hybrid era.

    13. I’m from Saudi Arabia, and I think its very important for drivers to a) participate in the race and b) voice their opinions openly on subjects that matter! The country is going through a huge transformation phase and the last thing that’s needed, in my opinion, are drivers reading scripted press statements or event cancellation due to poor participation which will turn this race a missed opportunity.

      What Hamiltion and especially Vettel are doing is to be applauded.

      1. @abashrawi +1
        That’s very good to hear.

  3. It would be great if F1 itself took a stronger stand alongside Lewis and any other drivers who point out the situation in these countries. Domenicali stated that F1 will be recognized for playing a role in leading change, but really it is not F1 but the drivers who make statements like Lewis has done and Seb has done in previous races that should get credit if anything happens as a result of F1 racing in these countries, which is still a highly dubious argument based on history.

    1. If they did that there wouldn’t have been a race in Saudi Arabia in the first place, let alone a Saudi Aramco sponsorship of F1. The reality seems to be that most people just don’t care. Some of the comments on this page also show that a lot of people dislike being reminded of the host country’s association with t corruption, terror, and murder. As long as it isn’t me, my family, or my friends being stoned to death why do I care? Stop bringing it up and making me feel bad!

      1. @ryanoceros Oh I absolutely agree that they wouldn’t be there (or Qatar or Azerbaijan or Russia or China or a number of other countries) or accept money from Aramco if they actually believed half the things they say.

        I see a number of comments on this board saying that Lewis is all talk and cowardly because he is going to race but if that is the case (and I don’t believe he is all talk or cowardly for racing), then F1 is worse than cowardly because they are the ones who have agreed to race in these locations, have accepted the sponsorship money from companies who have values antithetical to the values F1 espouses to the world in press releases, and as an organization remains silent about the abuses that internationally respected organizations like Amnesty International have repeatedly pointed out.

  4. This is the kind of thing that might actually make a bit of a difference. Lewis’ words have weight and it might add a little to the international pressure for Saudi Arabia to change its backwards ways.

    They want their country to be more international, this is what people will say.

    Never would have happened if F1 had never gone there. Now they are there, maybe there can be a positive influence.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      2nd December 2021, 17:57

      @napierrailton
      Well put! +1

  5. Excellent stance by Lewis. On balance I think he’s correct, voicing this protest at the lack of LGBTQ+ rights in Saudi Arabia could have some effect given he (and Vettel) have been doing so loudly and proactively. It certainly doesn’t sound like a regime endorsement.

  6. Read about Loujain al-Hathloul a woman driving advocate prosecuted as a domestic terrorist. They may have changed the law but people are still dealing with the abuse of political detention over things we consider basic everyday activities.

  7. As I said at the last race, I feel that the sport and we are duty bound to make sure …

    – Just stop right there. In this sport, your job is to drive a car, nothing else.

    I am very bemused by the fact how social justice warriors feel so entitled to explain what others should or should not do. Mind your own business. I bet Hamilton knows nothing about this country. If those people decided to do what they do, it’s their choice and way of life. They don’t come to Hamilton telling him what to do in his life or how females should behave in Europe.

    Logic and common sense, however, do not work for social justice warriors.

    1. Just stop right there. In this sport, your job is to drive a car, nothing else.

      I am very bemused by the fact how social justice warriors feel so entitled to explain what others should or should not do

      Would it be inappropriate of me to note my bemusement at two sentences right after each other here, one telling Hamilton what to do, and the next complaining about people telling other people what to do?

      1. +100

        Well said Bob C!

      2. Thanks Bob. These people are short of a few brain cells unfortunately.

    2. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      2nd December 2021, 16:42

      He’s not explaining to others, Saudi Arabians have asked Hamilton to speak out and that is what he’s done.

    3. In this sport, your job is to drive a car, nothing else.

      Using this logic then your job is to watch the racing, nothing else.

      You are a hypocrite feeling entitled to tell others they’re not entitled to tell others what to do. Do you not see that?

    4. If those people decided to do what they do, it’s their choice and way of life.

      The point is that so many people in many countries DON’T get to choose what they can and can’t do.

  8. It’s well said by Lewis and he played by the book trying to raise awareness, but unfortunately this won’t change anything there. Maybe we would see a real impact if drivers stood together or if Lewis himself boycotted the race; but is not going to happen. Like he said before, cash is king, and he’s part of that, another cog in the business. So it’s well intentioned but without real impact. And he won’t risk losing another title and also to penalize his whole team to take a stance on this. Nowadays is really hard to see someone walk the talk.

  9. Really happy to see him and Vettel speaking out about this sort of stuff.

    Would be far too easy to hide behind “we must respect local laws and customs”.

    1. Yes, God forbid someone visits another country and respects their laws and customs.

      1. Respect… those laws and customs that treat half the population as inferior beings, forbids freedom of religion and kills people who are unfortunate enough (in that country) to be attracted to the same sex?

        No thanks.

      2. “respects their laws and customs” – respect is earned.

  10. That’s fine. What will Lewis do with the money he earns this weekend?

    1. Probably he’ll spend it on a junior racing team (for underrepresented groups, surely) like Alonso, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Norris or Kubica have, so he can give it back to the sport that made him. Oh wait, even though he’s BY FAR the richest driver in the motorsport, all he can do is to whine and moan about diversity, while doing precisely nothing. Not even a kart team for black young drivers and mechanics, because his fashion endeavours are clearly more important to his overinflated ego and status.

      1. You’ve really got no idea what you’re talking about, have you…

        Famously, someone once said “Its better to remain silent and benthought a fool, than speak and remove all doubt”…

        I would heed these wise words

      2. You do realise he set up an entire organisation to get more diversity into motorsport?

        1. Sure.

          He did that by himself.

      3. I agree. He should be spending his money on karting or other junior formulas for those with the wherewithal to attend meetings. Not wasting it on the hospice, GOSH, young carers, Alperton and Mulberry, street children, Starlight, Harlem Zone and all the other initiatives for disadvantaged children.
        And now he has put his money and profile behind domestic abuse. Wasting his time and money on that when he could be posing for the cameras in front of his own karting team.
        And Mercedes should be more like RB and gag him like they have Max and co. We can’t have RBs bottom line in SA being affected by a driver expressing his opinion.

  11. You gotta give it to Lewis to take a stand for what he believes in. I don’t really like him and it can get annoying sometimes but going to Middle East countries wearing an LGBT flag on your helmet does take some courage.

  12. The article has been amended as follows: Part of Hamilton’s quote which read “I would say I do”, which was reported differently elsewhere, now reads “I [wouldn’t] say I do”, as having checked with his representatives we understand this is what he meant by the comment.

    1. OK, I understand it better now. But it should be corrected in the other place too : “The Mercedes driver says he feels “comfortable” in Saudi Arabia but stated it is F1’s choice to go there and not his.” Otherwise the reading doesn’t feel comfortable.

      1. @keithcollantine I guess this should be fixed as well, as it makes little sense

  13. It’s truly a clown world. Hamilton wore a t-shirt saying “Actions speak louder than words!” but all this coward can do is exactly the opposite, when money and fame is at stake.

    1. Less caffeine.
      Lots of fresh air.
      More time with loved ones.

      You’ll feel much better in no time…

      1. Sergey Martyn
        2nd December 2021, 18:36

        Sonny Crockett (@sonnycrockett)

        No caffeine whatsoever, only beer, 10 hrs daily working outdoors with loved ones, + swimming in a pool every other day but your recipe just doesn’t make me feel better when I see Lewis and his LGBT/BLM antics.
        And being myself Ghân-buri-Ghân, the chief of the Drúedain of Drúadan Forest in the Third Age from Lord of The rings epic I never listen nor recommend anyone to listen to advises given by fictional characters like Sonny Crockett or say Lloyd Christmas…

    2. Sergey Martyn
      2nd December 2021, 18:09

      Exaxtly! IMHO Lewis is only capable of wearing some shirts with some funny and very ambigious slogans in safe environments instead of voicing his “concerns” about human, animal, LGBT etc. rights in places where actions speak louder than words! (i.e. where his ass is in trouble)

  14. Great to hear Lewis taking a stand while F1 cozies up to the brutal Saudi government. It made me sick to see the Aramco F1 sponsorship and now this event in Saudi Arabia that are helping to whitewash the government’s brutal and careless actions. I was surprised that F1 would align themselves with SA now of all times regardless of the cash flow. If they continue on this path the race calendar will be a who’s who of corruption, murder, and greed which is not compatible with the things F1 says regarding “we race as one”, let alone F1s sustainability goals and the fact SA is no more than a gas station for the developed world.

  15. You can get ham locally you know? You dont need to go all the way to Italy for ham

  16. Embarrassing clownish behavior from Lewis cherry picking outrage again, hes a F1 genius savant on track complete social justice Karen when hes out of the car..
    My main issue is that the outrage feels artificial and astroturfed for geo political reasons (example, Qatar was targeted massively, is that because Qatar state owned beIN Sports is a massive competitor of Liberty and SKY/Comcast so they wanted to humiliate Qatar on a world stage?). Also why does ccp china never get targeted when they do 100x worse(forced sterilization of minorities, minorities targeted for organ harvesting, concentration camps to ‘re-educate’ Muslim men , released a virus causing $100s trillions wiped off global GDP and millions dead etc) and Lewis has been racing there since 2007…

    I guess this is post Bernie world of F1 where its ok to grandstand and turn this sacred sport into a political soapbox for hypocrite 100 millionaires and faceless US mega corporations.

    1. Also why does ccp china never get targeted when they do 100x worse(forced sterilization of minorities, minorities targeted for organ harvesting, concentration camps to ‘re-educate’ Muslim men , released a virus causing $100s trillions wiped off global GDP and millions dead etc) and Lewis has been racing there since 2007…

      Another proof that Lewis is cheap talk and very few actions (and when there’s some those are meaningless) as he will probably never have the ballsy attitude to criticise ccp’s China.

    2. @ccpbioweapon Well thankfully he’s got someone charismatic, articulate and obviously at the forefront of human rights activism like yourself to explain it all to him. Or maybe you could use your own immense talents and influence to save him the job?

    3. From time to time puppets get one right.

      How is driving a crime? Does by itself produce any victims?

      Or is it a crime because it hurts the delicate sensibilities of the (actual) patriarchy of islamic culture.

      If there’s no victim but just an offense to Allah or something, the women or anyone shouldn’t have been in jail in the 1st place, let alone still be there after the law was changed.

      But maybe I’m not correct and the “progressives” are OK with that patriarchy, ergo with the women still be in jail.

  17. quite admirable stance, best he could do in his position, really

  18. He should donate all or a substantial part of his earnings from this weekend to charity. Of course we all know he won’t do that. He, like most celebrities, prefers fake activism which costs nothing and/or earns praise. As opposed to real activism that costs something and/or which will upset a majority of people.

    1. Perhaps do a little more research…

    2. Yes, he should stop working with his regular charities and divert his time and resources to where you think he should. Maybe you could suggest which charities he should drop?

      1. I’m sure whatever he is donating is a fraction of his wealth. Its like you or I giving a $1 and then being praised. Essentially zero cost to himself. His lifestyle is not affected. Further, if he is so upset about racing in this location, it is against all his morals, how is keeping the money not just massively hypocritical?

        1. You are sure? So basically you have no clue. You are just making things up and reacting to what you want to believe about Hamilton.

  19. Real activism would be to skip the race, forfeit the money, endanger the championship, in the name of women’s and gay rights. That’s the sort of thing that Ali would have done.

  20. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    2nd December 2021, 20:43

    Jamal Khashoggi was in an entirely different country when he was chopped up into pieces by this regime. God I can’t imagine actually do something wrong in Saudi Arabia, quite disgusting we’re racing here but at this point it is what it is.

  21. It’s a bit of a shame that the W-Series isn’t running alongside.
    Even just a demo drive around for a few laps to showcase the series (you know..like the f1 thing at Spa, but this time with No Points lol)

  22. How many countries would F1 have left to race in if they took a stand and decided not to race in countries that had human rights issues? Saudi is certainly more extreme. No China or Russian races? No Middle East races? Canada and the US have a terrible record on dealing with First Nations issues. I’m sure there are other examples.

    I applaud Hamilton and Vettel for taking a public stand on issues in countries like Saudi Arabia. They have a high profile and are using it. I imagine if a mere mortal like myself went to Saudi wearing LGBT+ colours I’d end up being arrested.

    1. Haha.

      I have raised this point many times over years.

      As things stand, the western nations (Western Europe, US/Canada) that host F1 races are certainly not comparable to many of the Asian and Middle Eastern legs of the calendar. The simple fact that certain people a treated has sub human is more than telling. For most people, there are the obvious ones like Qatar or China, but how many people know of the treatment of migrant workers (who are largely hail from The Subcontinent) in Singapore for example? I used to work in a ship yard in Singapore, I have seen this first hand, it is terrible. Sadly, many people don’t see this because the industrial areas outside the “5 km radius”.

  23. I have no issue with Hamilton not racing there in protest. Would be a strong signal for what he stands for. Otherwise, he is just a hypocrite.

    1. @maxv So preferable to take the Verstappen-Raikkonen route, not express a care about anything or anyone beyond yourself, ever, and never be called a hypocrite? Just ‘cool’ perhaps?

      1. For me its about Hamilton trying to obtain cost free praise. He is basically doing nothing, same as all the other drivers, but wants praise for it. Words are very cheap. Actions usually cost something.

        1. Spot on!

          The day he actually get to sit and talk with some leader(s) and risk offending them, he might earn the brownie points.

          Until then just the usual empty shallow virtual signaling, elite-pleasing craptivism.

    2. And a strong signal from the other drivers, teams and players that they couldn’t car less about any sort of abuse? Not even enough to comment on it.
      And it seems there are quite a large %age of F1 fans that are more incensed about what Hamilton does or doesn’t do over this issue than the actual human rights violations themselves. So who knows.

  24. @david-br yes. Sport has dediced we race there. Woke arguments and politics don’t belong in sport in my opinion. We also race in usa, yet we don’t hear Hamilton condemn racing there. Has he looked at who the aggressor of this earth has been the past history? See, it seems its a bit unclear which country we can race in as they are all pretty evil and bad to a big degree. Simpler to just ignore all that and race..

    1. We also race in usa, yet we don’t hear Hamilton condemn racing there.

      You seem to have jumbled up your arguments: weren’t you criticizing him for not condemning racing in Saudi Arabia? As for the US, he’s been a vocal supporter of BLM and critic of police brutality in the US, so we have heard him do exactly the same as he’s done in Saudi Arabia. Raced but voiced criticism. If you think most countries (governments) are bad to some degree, I’d agree. But why not use your influence to try to change that a little? You prefer leaving politics to whom? Actors? Big business? Politicians?! Besides which, there’s a qualitative difference between different political issues: how to run an economy, whether to invade and bomb other countries, whether to try to eliminate an indigenous minority, whether to jail or even kill people because of their sexual orientation. Not all of them may be suitable for raising at an international sports meeting, but I think LGBTQ+ rights are because it’s a question of a universal right that a supposedly universal (global) sport, like F1, should be defending and advocating, the same as racial and ethnic rights – or the right not to be oppressed due to your colour, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

      1. Has he been critical of the waukesha killings or is that a conveniently forbidden topic?

        1. That was done by an SUV.

          1. The weapon didn’t drive itself.

            We are not there yet.

    2. some racing fan
      3rd December 2021, 6:34

      If you’re going to bring up that argument, then you might as well point out the UK’s, France’s, Belgium’s, Spain’s and Portugal’s colonial histories. Really, really not good. F1 also races that currently have really bad to atrocious human rights records: Russia, China, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Your argument basically states that the only country F1 should race in is Canada, because it qualiifies as the only current country in its whole history that hasn’t been hostile to other countries in the past 500 years?

      The US undoubtedly has done things to other countries- particularly in the Middle East that are reprehensible and appalling- that were done by corporate interests buying off federal politicians in Washington, D.C. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are thankfully $1 trillion later over. Biden ended our involvement in the Saudi genocide in Yemen 3 weeks or so into his first term. Biden is a fairly average president at best, however.

      Over here in the US, we have lots of domestic social problems. We don’t have free healthcare like in every other developed country. We don’t have free college/university, free child care, a living wage- none of that. Black and most Latino people are treated far worse by police than White or Asian people. Gun laws barely exist because the National Rifle Association lobbies for gun rights because gun manufacturers pay them billions to do so. Basically, the right-wing Republican party has too much power, and they are largely responsible for the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Because certain corporations that bribe politicians (they call their bribes “donations”) want it that way. In other words, every single problem in this country comes down to one thing: money.

      But you cannot compare the human rights records of the US to a country like Saudi Arabia- the comparison on its own is laughable. In 11 American states (Texas being one), the death penalty is legal- and only for premeditated “1st degree” murder, whereas in Saudi Arabia, you can be put to a grisly painful death for things like apostasy, treason, homosexuality, espionage, murder, r*pe, terrorism, drug smuggling, armed robbery, blasphemy, burglary, adultery, sorcery or witchcraft (however that is achieved), and waging war on God (whatever that means). Methods of execution there? Public beheading, stoning (literally put to death by rocks being thrown at you), firing squad, or cruxifiction (yes, you read that right). R*pe is usually punished by castration, thivery is usually done by amputation of hands. And that’s just the capital punishment part.

      The US is a democracy. We elect our leaders through voting them. Sometimes we elect total idiots like Trump, but we elect our leaders. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive, conservative and authoritarian states in the world- it is actually with 5 or 6 other countries a totalitarian state. They are a country with laws at least 7 centuries out of date. They do not have elections of any kind. Most people who live there live in appalling squalor. Women are treated like possessions and men are so insecure about other men oogling them that they have their whole bodies covered in black robe. Whatever the House of Saud says, goes- no matter how outrageous or harmful the decrees may be.

  25. He gets called a hypocrite when he speaks out about SA, gets called a hypocrite when he doesnt speak out about China, whatever he does people who have got to much time on there hands and love a good moan are gonna, well, moan….

  26. So how are Saudis taking this?

    Pride helmet is all good, but it is like a drop of water in the desert.

    Without sport washing F1 would be about half of income down.

  27. The sport in its wisdom decided to race in this and other questionable countries.

    My question is simple.

    IF any member of the F1 family, whether it be driver, team member, marshal, FIA official or Journalist, was taken into custody for breaching their LGBQ+ laws, would Liberty and The FIA do everything in their power to extract that person from custody and see them safely home, or will it just walk away with a “well you knew the consequences”

    I actually fear for those who are members of the LGBQ+ community that are part of the F1 family but aren’t high profile individuals who would be part of global news if they were impacted.

    1. It’s not a question that many here could answer –straight white males.

      Let’s hear what members of the LGBTQ community that are part of the F1 family but aren’t high profile individuals who would be part of global news –think would happen?

      1. There’s never been a demographic analysis of the RaceFans community so that’s a pretty wild assumption to make.

    2. @dbradock

      I don’t know for sure because it hasn’t happened to me that I’ve ended up in trouble in Saudi Arabia but obviously, I am gay and I do go there for FE. Whether F1, which has much more global focus on it, would be under more pressure to ensure safe passage for anyone caught I don’t know. But FE have never suggested that they would.

      My visa for Riyadh is organised by the Saudi foreign office and as such, the conditions of me being there are between me and them, not Formula E and them. So as far as not getting into trouble is concerned, that’s on me. Formula E issue us advice and guidance (to some degree) about what to do or what not to do and I think they would be sympathetic but ultimately part of the agreement of accreditation is to keep local laws.

      1. @hazelsouthwell thank you so much for taking the time.

        I had wondered whether or not the organisation had any influence on how the host country treats those participating in an event and it seems that, or at least in the case of FE, they don’t and rely on individuals being responsible.

        It would be interesting to know whether F1 provides and “advice and guidance” to team members etc, or particularly to fans that may attend or whether they rely on individuals doing their own due diligence on the sorts of things that are allowed (or not) in a host country.

        I guess my concerns are not for drivers or team principals as I suspect that no country would willingly risk the sore of negative press (not to mention the ability to host an event) they might get if a “well known” person was prosecuted but for the countless hundreds of others that are involved in the event that may well be overlooked if an individual was singled out and prosecuted under some archaic laws and then completely abandoned to their own devices by the F1 hierarchy.

  28. NeverElectric
    2nd December 2021, 23:46

    Having lived in Saudi Arabia (10 years), Kuwait (2 yrs) and Qatar (1 year), let me say this: while same-sex relations are officially illegal and punishable by death, in reality they are widespread in these countries, especially in Saudi Arabia. The hypocrisy in that country is astonishing.
    Glad to see that some of that is changing, but it is very slow.
    Kudos to Lewis and Vettel for bringing the considerable worldwide power of their respective platforms to this. They are very brave: the GCC countries are becoming powerhouses in world sport (three F1 races in the GCC, plus the World Cup next year), and they need to behave in more moderate ways, their shockingly deep pockets notwithstanding.
    The real scandal in those countries, though, is how they treat non-Arab, non-Caucasian foreign workers. That treatment is so shocking it must be seen to be believed.

  29. Israeli F1 fans cannot attend the race if they wanted to because for some reason Israelis are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Even if they could they would not be allowed to practice their religion because the punishment for this is imprisonment, whipping, or other torture. Lets hope none of the drivers or team members visibly pray during the race because this is strictly forbidden.

    1. You gotta love that culture, right?

      BTW it goes both ways so…

  30. Lewis says what needs to be said. I wish when the raced in Texas he would have said something about the draconian abortion laws adopted there.

    1. Abortion starved ones can go to California for that (or for now to most states). Some hours away.

    2. some racing fan
      4th December 2021, 6:29

      As an American, so do I.

  31. In response to Armchair expert,
    You obviously do not grasp the consequences of going against the grain under an ABSOLUTE MONARCHY. Whether the King or the designated Heir to the Throne, Mohammed Bin Salman, could order Hamilton seized and imprisoned for manifest attempt at “destabilising the Kingdom”. Many nationals and foreigners have lost their heads over mere words under the sunny SA skies.
    Hamilton’s words could be branded “lèse-majesté” and be punishable with the utmost rigour.
    If I were in his shoes I would abstain from uttering hostile (useless according to you) words while under the roof
    of such irascible hosts.
    Call me chicken if you will but I really shudder at what may befall Hamilton.
    You really are mean if you would want him to do more that what he already did.

    1. No worries!

      He’s protected and he does know his place anyway.

      If he were a member of the actual women or LGBTQ non-millionaire people, that’s another thing entirely.

      Any member of that community care to share their ideas about this?

  32. Here we go again. I loathe everyone who criticize Saudi for something that far less damaging for humanity. Did no one care about how Saudi destroy Yemen and pushed 16 of millions lives into starvation backed fully by United States?

    Selective outrage like this is laughable. Both US & Saudi should be banned to hosted F1 if you really care about human right.

    1. some racing fan
      3rd December 2021, 6:37

      The US undoubtedly has done things to other countries- particularly in the Middle East that are reprehensible and appalling- that were done by corporate interests buying off federal politicians in Washington, D.C. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are thankfully $1 trillion later over. Biden ended our involvement in the Saudi genocide in Yemen 3 weeks or so into his first term. Biden is a fairly average president at best, however. We also pulled out of our involvement with Yemen that was appalling and totally wrong.

      You cannot compare the human rights records of the US to a country like Saudi Arabia- the comparison on its own is laughable. In 11 American states (Texas being one), the death penalty is legal- and only for premeditated “1st degree” murder, whereas in Saudi Arabia, you can be put to death for things like apostasy, treason, homosexuality, espionage, murder, r*pe, terrorism, drug smuggling, armed robbery, blasphemy, burglary, adultery, sorcery or witchcraft (however that is achieved), and waging war on God (whatever that means). Methods of execution there? Public beheading, stoning (literally put to death by rocks being thrown at you), firing squad, or cruxifiction (yes, you read that right). R*pe is usually punished by castration, thivery is usually done by amputation of hands. And that’s just the capital punishment part.

    2. some racing fan
      3rd December 2021, 6:38

      You cannot compare the human rights records of the US to a country like Saudi Arabia- the comparison on its own is laughable. In 11 American states (Texas being one), the death penalty is legal- and only for premeditated “1st degree” murder, whereas in Saudi Arabia, you can be put to death for things like apostasy, treason, homosexuality, espionage, murder, terrorism, drug smuggling, armed robbery, blasphemy, burglary, adultery, sorcery or witchcraft (however that is achieved), and waging war on God (whatever that means). Methods of execution there? Go look it up sometime.

      1. some racing fan
        3rd December 2021, 6:41

        Also- the US has done awful things to other countries- particularly in the Middle East- but how about we bring up the UK’s, France’s, Spain’s, Portugal’s and Belgium’s colonial histories? Really, really not good. Also- the US stopped its backing of the Saudi war in Yemen in February. Biden did that 3 weeks into his term.

        1. LoL. No. Obama, Trump, and Biden still selling weapon to Saudi.

          1. some racing fan
            4th December 2021, 6:27

            Prove it.

    3. Ahhh, good old whataboutism 😂

      1. Sure, if you really don’t care being hypocrite

        1. some racing fan
          4th December 2021, 6:28

          Whataboutism is a definitive form of hypocrisy. You are not bright.

  33. As always, plenty of negative comments below an article where a driver speaks out in support of oppressed communities. Which says more about the opinions/beliefs of those making those comments than anything else.

    1. Jeffrey Powell
      3rd December 2021, 8:44

      Excellent post.

    2. @oweng Exactly, like we don’t all know whose side they’re actually on in the end. And it isn’t the LGBTQ+ side.

      1. So if a person doesn’t like Hamilton’s pointless hypocritical virtue signaling, they must be against LGBTQ+? I am for those rights, and also against pointless hypocritical virtue signaling. This is not a black and white world. Two things can be true at the same time.

        If Hamilton would do something besides cheap words, I would actually respect his position. It’s like a person being mugged on the street, and Hamilton from his car drives by and shouts “stop mugging that person” and then drives away. And then everyone who saw congratulates him on a job well done.

        1. The basic problem there is you (or virtually anyone else) have absolutely no idea what Hamilton does or doesn’t do outside the public realm, the conversations he has, the influence he tries to exert, the projects he might back. So how can you judge whether it’s ‘just virtue signalling’? And why hypocritical? Being a Formula 1 driver and worrying about climate change may open you to accusations of hypocrisy. But why would defending LGBTQ+ rights be hypocritical? It just seems an accusation you’re throwing out without any real thought, unless it’s based on the time he joked about his nephew in a dress. But he apologized and said he learned from that. Which is surely the right attitude. All of us have our ingrained prejudices we need to unlearn.

          1. Pointless = this will achieve nothing. Hypocritical = cashing checks working in a location that he finds morally wrong, particularly when he has enough money to lose the income for this weekend. Virtue signaling = just complaining about something you dislike without actually doing anything simply to earn brownie points with your fan base.

            I’m not saying Hamilton had to be heroic. Even donating a small part of this races income would have said something. See Vettel–he actually put on a race for women as I understand. A small gesture, but more than nothing. Some act to show he is not just blowing hot air.

            Based on the comments most seem to like what Hamilton did. So from a PR perspective, he made the right choice. And all with a personally costless gesture.

  34. Hope he has the same concerns about racing in Austria and Germany next year regarding the ridiculous and gross overreaction mandates over a sniffle those countries are bringing in.

  35. Saudi Arabia not only has funded Islamic terrorism across the world with its wahabi ideology and funding such ideology in poor countries by building mosques and islamic schools which in turn promotes such problem again in that country. Human rights and LGBTQ is just a drop in the bucket of a plethora of issues with Saudi Arabia. We come here speak 2 words like this and outrage in social media till sunday and then move on. Drivers should just boycott and make a statement, i know its asking for too much but speaking against it doesn’t do anything, actions do. Boycott would be a major embarrassment for Saudi Arabia and its regime.

  36. Thank goodness for Hamilton and Vettel; I suspect that because of them this attempt to “sportswash” themselves by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE is actually backfiring.

    Hamilton and Vettel are putting front and centre the awful way these countries treat women, gays, and really anyone who wants to live their life a little bit different to the strict conservative religious norms imposed by their absolute monarchical rulers, and it can’t be ignored.

  37. Ok. Lewis. Make one full round. Them go to the Pit, park your car. Get out and kneel as a protest. You are the greatest, so now it is time to show the world these are not waisted words.

    1. @pietkoster Sure. Then he gets sacked by Mercedes, drops out of Formula 1 and quickly loses whatever influence he has won over his time racing. And still those criticizing, like you, will continue to find fault, while also smirking that he gave a championship away over this or any other issue – because you don’t really care about it at all, do you?

      1. @david-br There would be no doomsday scenario for Hamilton if he decided to drop out (consider Lauda’s withdrawal in ’76).

  38. Love to see multiple world champions, Lewis and Seb, each poking sticks in the eyes of these filthy, murderous despots. And doing it differently, in their own ways. Hope others join in.

    1. Do Lew & Seb get paid before or after the poking with sticks?

  39. Vettel (in particular) and Hamilton were quite vocal in Hungary, then went strangely quiet on the same issue in Texas at Austin a month or so ago . Hoping they don’t suddenly lose their voice again next year (think $$ had something to do with it)

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