Words: Alastair James; pictures:Wiki
The German racer, Sebastian Vettel, has spoken of the stir he recently caused at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he emerged onto the track wearing a rainbow shirt and facemask in defiance of the host country’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.
The law, which came into effect in July, effectively banned the dissemination of LGBTQ content in schools to those under-18. EU leaders have called the law “disgraceful”, but its leader, Viktor Orbán, has rejected the pressure from what he called “Brussels bureaucrats”.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, has said he was proud to make the move at the event in August and wanted to send a message.
"A good opportunity to send out a small sign"
In an episode of the BBC’s LGBT Sport podcast, the Formula One star said he’d been aware of the developments in Hungary around their anti-LGBTQ legislation and recognised the opportunity he had.
He told the podcast that, “the idea was born that we have this moment before the race where we are able to put out certain messages, and I thought it was a good opportunity to send out a small sign.”
The phrase across his shirt, ‘Same Love’, references a Macklemore song, according to Vettel, which he thought would be relevant to his message. “It doesn't matter your skin colour, it doesn't matter your background, it doesn't matter where you come from, it doesn't matter who you fall in love with. In the end, you just want equal treatment for everybody.”
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Vettel’s actions have rippled throughout the racing community, with Aston Martin’s chief communications officer, Matt Bishop, who is gay, praising the racer.
He said: “LGBTQ+ people in Formula One are still a rarity. So, to have someone like Seb, who is a straight man who completely understands that one should be able to live and let live, and love and make love to whoever you like, is very heartening. It's what we call allyship, and as I said to Sebastian, it meant a lot to me.”
Among the many messages of support Vettel received was one from British driver Lewis Hamilton, who promised to “join you next time with the same shirt.” Hamilton has previously slammed Hungary over the same piece of legislation describing it as “unacceptable, cowardly and misguiding”.
This comment drew the ire of Hungary’s justice minister, Judit Varga, who said the race should “stick to driving”. In July, Prime Minister Orbán announced a national referendum on the legislation but a date has yet to be announced.
We love seeing great examples of allyship in all areas and our hats go off to Vettel and Hamilton!
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