Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have used the world’s focus around this past weekend’s Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix to express their support for LGBTIQ+ rights.
In June, the Hungarian government passed a law that bans any representation of LGBTIQ+ inclusion to young people in the media and in schools. The law also equates homosexuality with paedophilia.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán last month announced that Hungarians will be asked to vote on the issue in a referendum, which will include a series of biased and leading questions.
Just before the race in Budapest on Sunday, Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel wore a rainbow t-shirt with the words “same love” along with a rainbow facemask during the national anthem ceremony.
Earlier in the week, Vettel was also spotted wearing rainbow trainers. He commented to journalists that he found it “embarrassing” that a country in the European Union had passed such a repressive law.
“Everybody should be free to do what they like, love who they like… So it’s obviously not for us to make the law, that’s not our role, but I think just to express the support for obviously those who are affected by it,” he said.
After coming second in the race, he was reprimanded by Formula 1 officials for violating “pre-race procedures” by not taking off the t-shirt as required.
“I’m happy if they disqualify me. They can do whatever they want to me, I don’t care. I would do it again,” Vettel, who continued to wear the rainbow mask after the race, said.
Racing Pride, a group lobbying for LGBTIQ+ inclusion in motorsport, thanked Vettel and Aston Martin “for their visible support for the #LGBTQ+ community.”
“We hope this will mean a lot to our community & allies in Hungary this weekend especially.”
Vettel was later disqualified because officials were unable to take a required fuel sample from his vehicle after the race.
In the days before the contest, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton also spoke out in an Instagram story about the crisis facing the LGBTIQ+ community in Hungary.
“To all in this beautiful country Hungary. Ahead of the grand prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ law,” the Formula 1 World Champion wrote.
“It is unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding for those in power to suggest such a law. Everyone deserves to have the freedom to be themselves, no matter who they love or how they identify.
“I urge the people of Hungary to vote in the upcoming referendum to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, they need our support more than ever. Please show love for those around you because love will always win.”
Hungary’s Justice Minister Judit Varga lashed out at the driver on Facebook. She wrote that Hamilton had “joined the camp of international fake news producers by attacking our child protection law” and that “the protection of Hungarian children remains the task of Hungarian parents and not of foreign racing drivers.”
The European Commission recently announced that it would start proceedings against Hungary’s government because the anti-LGBTIQ+ law violates EU values, treaties and rules.