European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights slams the FIA, makes Lewis Hamilton plea

Lewis Hamilton is set to defy the FIA by wearing a helmet which includes streaks of the LGBTQ+ flag in 2023.

Ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) has urged the drivers to defy the FIA and continue to “make a difference”, in response to the governing body’s ban on “political, religious, or personal” statements.

The FIA’s controversial update to the International Sporting Code (ISC) has been a huge talking point ahead of the season, with many of the drivers having called the governing body out for effectively attempting to strangle their freedom of speech.

Demonstrating support for the likes of human rights or the LGBTQ+ community could result in a driver being disqualified from a session this season, something which could happen as soon as this weekend in Bahrain.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has already unveiled his helmet for the forthcoming season, which includes streaks of the LGBTQ+ flag, something that is technically banned now under the ISC.

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The ECDHR are hopeful that drivers will “follow” Hamilton’s example and continue to raise awareness for campaigns and communities which need it, with the Middle East in particular being an area where human rights and same-sex marriage continue to be a pressing issue.

In a letter addressed to Hamilton and the rest of the drivers, the ECDHR has urged them to demonstrate support for human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was given a life sentence after being part of an anti-government protest in Bahrain in 2011.

ECDHR’s statement read: “This is of the utmost importance now that the FIA [Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile] wants to take power over how drivers can express themselves through the amendments made to FIA’s International Sporting Code for 2023, threatening to sanction all drivers who do not maintain a neutral stance on personal, political or religious matters.

“We hope your openness to be informed about the human rights situation in the countries you race in will inspire others to follow your example, because, as you have rightfully pointed out, ‘one person’ can only make a certain amount of difference, and there is a ‘need for collective support’ to make a difference,” the letter said.

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Whether the drivers do continue to demonstrate support given the update to the ISC remains to be seen, Hamilton has already revealed that he won’t “let anybody stop” him from raising awareness for campaigns and communities in need of urgent support.

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Hamilton believes “great progress” has been made, but that “there’s more to do” to make for a better world.

“I think we’ve come a long way. I think we’ve seen great progress, but there’s more to do and we are still going to places where there are still issues and I know there is work being done in those places, too, and these things can take time,” Hamilton told Sky News.

“I’m going to continue to be me and continue to fight for things that I am passionate about. I wouldn’t let anybody stop me from doing that.”