‘Not my choice to be here’: Hamilton condemns Saudi Arabia’s ‘terrifying’ LGBTQ+ laws before race

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Lewis Hamilton has said he does not feel comfortable about racing in Saudi Arabia’s grand prix this weekend, as he expressed concern about human rights in the kingdom.

The seven-times Formula 1 world champion will be competing in a night race around a street circuit in Jeddah.

Hamilton said 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.

He also said the Liberty Media-owned sport needed to do more before adding he will wear the same Progress Pride helmet he wore at last month’s Qatar Grand Prix, in order to draw attention to LGBTQ+ intolerance.

This is due to gay sex also being a criminal offence in the kingdom, which Hamilton said was “pretty terrifying”.

Hamilton said: “Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say that I do.

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

“There’s changes that need to be made. For example women’s rights of being able to drive [legally] in 2018, it’s how they are policed. Some of the women are still in prison from driving many, many years ago.

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

Lewis Hamilton won his 100th Formula One race. Pic: AP
Image:
Lewis Hamilton is a seven-times Formula 1 world champion

Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has also argued that sport can help bring change.

He told Sky Sports: “As soon as these countries choose to be under the spotlight Formula 1 is bringing, there is no excuse.

“They have taken the route of a change.”

Meanwhile, Formula 1 announced its We Race As One campaign last year to help highlight issues such as racism and inequality.

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel said it was clear “some things are not going the way they should”.

However, he added change took time and he wanted to highlight positive examples of progress.

Vettel said: “For sure there are shortcomings and they have to be addressed but I still feel the more powerful tool is the positive weapon.”

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