Brazilian racing driver Nelson Piquet Jr. has been fined $950,000 by a Brazilian court for using a racist term during a podcast in November 2021. Piquet apologised, stating that his language was “ill thought out”. He also claims that the term he used has “widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’,” and that it was “never intended to offend.” This issue came to court last week when four groups, including Brazil’s National LGBT+ Alliance, sued Piquet for moral damages, and the judgment was in their favour but for half that amount. The judge noted that the fine reflected not only “the reparatory function of civil responsibility, but also (and perhaps mainly) the punitive function, precisely so that as a society, we can one day rid ourselves of the pernicious acts that are racism and homophobia.”
Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One world champion, expressed his support of the decision in Melbourne last Thursday. Hamilton stated that his previous comments on this issue remain valid and that “generally, we shouldn’t be giving people that are just full of hate a platform.” He acknowledged the Brazilian government for its efforts in holding someone accountable and showing that racism and homophobia are not acceptable. Hamilton expressed his desire for more governments worldwide to follow suit and condemn hate crimes. He also commented on Uganda’s recent decision to pass a bill imposing the death penalty for homosexuality, highlighting the necessary steps that need to be taken to prevent injustices against minority communities. Hamilton also emphasised that over 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East still have anti-homosexuality laws, and there remains much to learn from Brazil’s court decision.