Formula One Star Lewis Hamilton Criticizes Florida’s Anti-LGBTQ Laws

Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton spoke out on Thursday against anti-LGBTQ measures passed by lawmakers in Florida and criticized the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law by comparing it to the oppression experienced in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s not good at all,” said Hamilton ahead of F1’s highly anticipated race in suburban Miami over the weekend. “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.”

Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, frequently uses his platform to address issues of social justice, race, human rights, and the protection of LGBTQ rights. He speaks out while racing in countries with questionable human rights records—such as Saudi Arabia—or when an issue arises in which he feels his voice can provide support.

The comments come just three days before the first of F1’s three stops in the United States this season and amid growing interest in the racing series among Americans. The other stops are in Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas.

Hamilton often races with a rainbow flag on his helmet, specifically when F1 races are held in countries with restrictive laws. There was no on-track activity on Thursday, and Hamilton wore a Tommy Hilfiger two-piece blue set with red and white accents to commemorate being in the United States.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into state law at the end of March. The bill, which has been expanded since, prohibits public school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students. Although Hamilton opposes it, the veteran Mercedes driver did not say whether F1 should avoid racing in Florida because of its social policies.

“It’s not for me to decide something like that,” Hamilton said. “I did hear and have read about some of the decisions that have been made in government here and I do not agree with them and I do not support them. 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.

“It’s not the people of Miami who are making these decisions, it’s the people in government, and that’s the issue,” he added. “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.”

Before last year’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton weighed in on the Roe v. Wade debate and invited former first lady Michelle Obama to 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.”

At the start of the year, Formula One’s governing body announced that drivers would not be allowed to speak out on social justice issues during racing events. The drivers pushed back, and the FIA clarified its position to allow drivers to respond to questions. Hamilton was asked about Florida’s laws on Thursday but had previously said he was not going to follow the FIA’s guidance.

Hamilton became the first Black driver to win a race in F1 in 2008. With seven titles, he is now the winningest driver in series history and is tied with Michael Schumacher for the most championship wins.

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