Lewis Hamilton, seven-time Formula One champion, has criticised anti-gay measures taken by Florida lawmakers and condemned the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law before the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton, F1‘s only Black driver, has previously used his platform to advocate for social justice, human rights, and the LGBTQ+ community. He often speaks out while racing in countries with questionable human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, or when serious social issues arise that require his support.
“It’s not good at all. 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,” said Hamilton on Thursday ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, one of F1‘s three stops scheduled in the United States this season, along with Austin, Texas and Las Vegas. Hamilton has raced previously in other countries with similar restrictive laws, where he often chooses to display a rainbow flag on his helmet to visibly express his support for the LGBTQ+ community.
While Hamilton remained critical of Florida’s anti-gay measures and the state’s decision to enact the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he did not say if F1 should avoid racing in Florida over social concerns such as these. “It’s not for me to decide something like that. 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,” he said.
Before last year’s Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton made headlines for speaking out against the controversial Roe v. Wade debate. He also hosted former first lady Michelle Obama in his pit for practice and qualifying. “I love being in the States, but I can’t ignore what’s going on right now and what some in the government are trying to do to the women who live here,” Hamilton said then, ahead of the Supreme Court decision to end the nationwide right to legal abortion. “Everyone should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies. We can’t let that choice be taken away.”
F1‘s governing body initially prohibited drivers from speaking out on social justice issues at events. However, after pushback from the drivers, the FIA clarified its position to allow drivers to respond to questions about social issues. Hamilton has been vocal about his desire to express his stance on important matters, including Florida’s laws. “It’s not the people of Miami that are making these decisions, it’s the people in government, and that’s the issue. I think, hopefully, all I can do — the sport is going to be here whether I am or not — but the least I can do is just continue to be supportive and just being here and having that on my helmet, hopefully, that speaks well to the subject,” he said.