Written by Staff Writer
Lewis Hamilton put forward a powerful defence of LGBTI rights to defend his place in the world driving world championships, with Sky Sports news program “All Out” airing a discussion on the topic on Monday evening.
The British Formula One driver was heavily criticized for announcing in a magazine interview published in September that he is attracted to men and would consider being gay. The Sports Illustrated piece provoked strong reactions, with Hamilton admitting he has been dragged into a ‘great debate’.
Airline KLM released a post on Twitter on Monday after the All Out discussion on how to handle the event’s controversy.
“All Out,” a group advocating for LGBTI equality on a global level, said it hoped the interview, and an exchange with Hamilton, would help “wake the world up”.
KLM said the response to Hamilton’s comments has been “truly incredible.”
“Thank you all so much for the many comments, tweets and messages of support,” wrote KLM, the airline for Mercedes and the Mercedes Vans company.
“We are working towards creating a worldwide campaign for all people to come together on this issue and to help us understand where we as a company and all of us as a society have to go in creating equality for all.”
Lamborghini, Formula One’s most valuable car company, spoke out on Thursday.
“Like everybody else, we were surprised to hear of Lewis Hamilton’s comments earlier this week in the sport’s latest magazine,” a spokesman for the company told CNN Travel.
“We strongly condemn homophobia and transphobia in any form, and the Lamborghini family has been dedicated to supporting LGBTI equality globally since before they were founded in 1963.”
“All Out” reviewed FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s record on LGBTI rights, including how the tournament has been approached to the LGBTI community during its history.
It made many people (even the gay people it talked to for its program) question whether Infantino is allowing LGBTI culture and straight allies to be more inclusive than the Eurovision Song Contest, which it called “a festival of heteronormativity.”
Hamilton was also criticized for using the Pride parade in London in September to proclaim his support for the LGBTI community, with some saying he could have done so at other occasions.
“All Out” said it hoped Lewis Hamilton would continue to uphold his values as a role model in the LGBTI community going forward, after experiencing a high level of support.
CNN UK’s property editor Alanna Roberts was invited onto a panel with Andy Muncaster, the editor of All Out UK and international editor Paul Parry to discuss both the issue and what could have been done differently to prevent the controversy in the first place.
A statement from Hamilton on Sunday afternoon read: “Being who I am has always been an absolute honor and a great privilege, but I find it really difficult to explain the huge and unexpected reaction to my statement in September.
“I was speaking about my journey, my influences and my journey to Formula One and I believe my words were taken out of context and unfortunately, I have had to apologize for these comments.
“But this is not about me, and I do not want the firestorm of controversy to overshadow the vast amount of work I have done in the world to support LGBTI equality since I started on my journey to F1, as we all do.”
He added that he will continue to work with British LGBTI organization Stonewall “to promote equality and diversity within F1 and the sport industry.”