Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time World Champion of Formula One, who is also a vocal activist on social justice and LGBTQ+ issues, has criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other lawmakers ahead of the Miami Grand Prix this weekend. Hamilton, who is F1’s only Black driver, called out the state for its recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, comparing it to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Influence of The Rainbow Helmet
“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 [Arabia],” Hamilton said in a statement to The Associated Press. “It’s not good at all. I really do continue to stand with the LGBTQ community.”
Florida recently passed the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which restricts instruction up to the eighth grade about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, bans schools from using a person’s preferred pronouns if they differ from that person’s sex at birth, and allows parents and citizens to challenge books or other classroom material they think contains pornographic or inappropriate conduct. The state also passed a law banning gender-affirming care for most trans minors in the state and threatens to remove the medical license of doctors who provide that care.
The Miami Grand Prix is one of three F1 stops in the United States this season. Hamilton, who often wears a rainbow flag on his helmet as a sign of support for the LGBTQ+ community, also spoke out against the overturning of Roe v. Wade and abortion rights at last year’s race.
When asked if F1 should stop racing in Florida over the laws, Hamilton said that it wasn’t his place to make that decision. “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 added.
Support from other Sports Personalities
Hamilton is not the only sports figure to criticize Florida’s laws. Dwyane Wade, a former Miami Heat star and future NBA Hall of Famer, spoke out against the state last month and at the Met Gala earlier this week.
Wade, who has a 15-year-old transgender daughter, said, “For us, as much as I love that city and as much as I’m always going to be a part of it, for the safety of my family, that’s what it was for me. I couldn’t move back. We will always continue to speak out, to speak up. We continue to stand with this community because this community is for us, is with us. It is our community because of our daughter, Zaya Wade.”
Despite the backlash, the Miami Grand Prix is set to continue this weekend, with F1 drivers taking to the track on Sunday, May 8th.