F1 Allyship

F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton Slams Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law Ahead of Miami Grand Prix

Florida’s LGBTQ+ community has an ally in Formula One champion driver Lewis Hamilton, as he calls out Florida’s heinous “Don’t Say Gay” law. 

On Thursday, during press coverage ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami, Hamitlon spoke out about the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation enacted by Florida lawmakers, which prohibits public schools from educating students, up to grade 12, on gender identity and sexual orientation. The 38-year-old even compared the attack on Florida’s LGBTQ+ community to the anti-LGBTQ+ efforts in Saudi Arabia, a country known for prescribing the death penalty as punishment for individuals committing same-sex sexual acts.

“It’s not good at all,” said Hamilton. “I stand by those within the community here. I hope they continue to stand firm and push back. I’ll have the rainbow on my helmet. It’s no different to when we were in Saudi.”

Last March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, aka “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The anti-LGBTQ+ law originally prohibited public school teachers from teaching students up to grade 3 about sexual orientation and gender identity. It has since expanded to cover K-12 education. In addition to DeSantis’ law, the ACLU counts 471 anti-LGBTQ+ bills across the country. Several are located in the F1 racing spots, including Texas, Nevada, and Florida. 

The Formula One racer’s comments come before the first of three stops in the United States, including Austin, Las Vegas, and Miami. The move is a byproduct of the surge in interest in the prestigious motor racing competition, governed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), within the U.S.

As F1’s only Black driver, Hamilton has used his platform in the past to call out racial and LGBTQ+ injustice, specifically condemning anti-LGBTQ+ laws ahead of his win at the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Additionally, the seven-time Formula One champion competed with the LGBTQ+ flag on his helmet during the race.

However, at the start of the year, the FIA prohibited drivers from speaking out on social justice issues at F1 sanctioned events. Racers pushed back against the measure, causing the FIA to clarify its position and allowing F1 drives to respond to questions. Hamilton previously stated that he wasn’t going to adhere to FIA guidance.

When Hamilton was asked if F1 should race in Florida due to its anti-LGBTQ+ policies, the racer stated that it wasn’t his decision to make. 

“It’s not for me to decide something like that,” said Hamilton. “I did hear and have read about some of the decisions that have been made in government here and I do not agree with it and I do not support it. I really do continue to stand with the LGBTQ community and I’m wearing a rainbow flag on my helmet this weekend and I just really want to continue to support the community here and let them know I stand with them and I hope they continue to fight against it.”

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