Britain's seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has voiced his support for the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary ahead of the Grand Prix in the country this weekend.
The Hungarian government introduced a new law earlier this month which banned what prime minister Viktor Orban’s party described as “gay propaganda” in the country’s schools.
The bill has been widely criticised across Europe, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen describing it as "shameful” and football fans at the recent European Championship also protested against the legislation.
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However, just three days before last Saturday’s Budapest Pride march, Orban announced that a referendum will be held on the law. With F1 travelling to the country for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton has voiced his criticism of what he has called a “cowardly and misguided” approach.
"To all in this beautiful country Hungary,” Hamilton wrote. “Ahead of the Grand Prix this weekend, I want to share my support for those affected by the government's anti-LGBTQ+ law.
"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.”
The Hungarian Prime Minister is facing an election next spring after being challenged by a newly-formed coalition of opponents.
Orban’s Fidesz far-right party previously held a referendum on rejecting Europe’s mandatory migrant quotas, which received majority support in votes but failed to reach the 50% population mark to become legally binding.
LGBTQ+ rights campaigners suggest that the latest referendum is similarly politically motivated and potentially hugely damaging.
“Organising a referendum to take away fundamental rights of a minority reminds us of Europe in the 1930s,” Remy Bonny of Belgian group Forbidden Colours said.
“This referendum [is] not only putting the LGBTIQ-community back in the closet, it also endangers the basic rights of children.”
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