Lewis Hamilton has drawn praise from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for defending LGBTI rights during the final race of the Formula One racing season last weekend.
In an August 21 Facebook post, the progressive civil rights organization commended the British driver for mentioning the human rights of LGBTI people during his remarks at the end of the Grand Prix in Doha, Qatar.
Hamilton addressed a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans during the podium ceremony in the event’s closing lap on August 19, as he celebrated his third win of the season.
“Before we take a look at the winner of the race it’s my pleasure to honor and thank everyone who has put their trust in me, and who makes this sport and this movement possible,” Hamilton said. “All athletes, athletes and fans, including myself, should be proud of the contribution we can make to our greater society because we are all fighting for freedom everywhere, even when we’re racing on the track.”
Hamilton is openly gay and has been with his longtime boyfriend Ola Vincent for almost a decade. He adopted a puppy — the first male to do so — while in Qatar on the way home from the race.
According to IGLHRC, I’lli Dikin, the commission’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications, called Hamilton’s words a “great move.”
“He said what needed to be said and ensured that everyone heard what he had to say. Yes, he has his own perspective on these issues. Yes, he did not mention the matter of LGBTI rights in Qatar,” said Dikin in a statement. “But he recognized its importance in sports history, and he gave examples of how individuals such as Igor Sikora, Allen Iverson and Ugo Bardi have used their celebrity to make a positive difference.”
Hamilton’s remarks address years of pressure on athletes and others in sports to speak out on LGBTI issues.
Lewis Hamilton, @scuderia_ferrari and 40 more will be on The CW’s #PromiseInAction Tour in USA on Sept 1st at the @bristolgovt to empower youth to believe in themselves. See more info: https://t.co/BJWI4xYyuS pic.twitter.com/3u0LlaLdnR — United Kingdom LGBTI (@uk_lgbtile) August 16, 2018
“Despite making their own personal contribution to these larger social and cultural issues, sportspeople have all too often kept their heads down and their mouths shut until being asked or compelled to speak out,” Dikin added. “In recent years, we have seen F1 champ Lewis Hamilton continue to make his mark in sporting and cultural history, speaking out against bullying in schools and inequality of all types.”