Formula 1 star wears LGBTQ Pride helmet at Qatar Grand Prix

World champion racing driver Lewis Hamilton will wear an LGBTQ flag on his helmet for the upcoming Qatar Grand Prix on November 21.

His new helmet features the Pride of Progress Flag, which features black and brown stripes to honor queer communities of color, as well as light blue and pink colors to honor the transgender community. The back of the helmet reads “We Stand Together”.

“Equal rights are a serious problem,” Hamilton said during Formula 1 press conference Thursday. The 36-year-old British runner, who is black, has spoken extensively on human rights issues and has devoted much of his platform to denouncing human rights violations.

Sunday’s race will be Qatar’s first Formula 1 tournament after the country signed a 10-year deal with the racing league, according to BBC Sport. However, the upcoming race has raised concerns about human rights and equality in the Arab nation.

“I think when these sports go to these places, they have a duty to raise awareness about these issues and these places need careful scrutiny and need the media to talk about these things,” Hamilton said Thursday.

Qatar has been the center of numerous human rights violations. Homosexuality is illegal in the country and can lead to prison terms. Courts governed by religious law can technically punish Muslim people with same-sex relationships with death, but there is no evidence that the punishment was used, The independent reported earlier this year.

The Middle Eastern country has also been criticized for its treatment of migrant workers. Migrant hotel workers preparing for the 2022 World Cup worked long shifts for less than $ 2 an hour, with little or no time off, The Guardian reported Thursday.

“I just think if we come to these places we have to raise awareness of the situation,” Hamilton said at the conference.

In July, the racing champion denounced anti-LGBTQ laws in Hungary ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton called the laws “cowardly” and “unacceptable” and urged Hungarian citizens to vote in an upcoming referendum, Initiated reported.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have raised concerns about the so-called sports wash, when a country tries to use sport or major sporting events to distract the attention of the international community from human rights violations and mistreatment.

Amnesty International called the Qatari government to tackle its record of human rights abuses ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the world’s premier football tournament.

“FIFA must act now to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is a tournament to be proud of, and not one marred by labor abuse,” said Stephen Cockburn, deputy director of global issues at the organization, in a press release. statement earlier this year.

Formula 1, in a declaration on its website, said it was “committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights in its global operations.”

The running league also outlined the steps it will take to ensure it respects human rights in its operations, including respecting the rights of its employees and monitoring the impact of its events.

“There is a long way to go,” said Hamilton.

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