Sir Rod Stewart turns down huge deal to perform in Saudi Arabia over human rights injustices: ‘So many citizens there have extremely limited choices’
Sir Rod Stewart has turned down one of the biggest offers of his career by refusing to perform in Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s human rights injustices.
The singer, 78, rejected the huge lucrative deal over its discrimination against women, LGBTQ+ people and the brutal silencing of its critics.
The Mirror reported that Rod said: ‘I’m grateful that I have a choice whether or not to perform in Saudi Arabia. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices… women, the LGBTQ community, the press.
‘I’d like my choice not to go… to shine a light on the injustices there and ignite positive change.’
A source added: ‘Rod was determined to do the right thing and couldn’t accept the offer, no matter how much money was on the table. Some things are more important.’
MailOnline have contacted Rod’s representatives for comment.
Career move: Sir Rod Stewart has turned down one of the biggest offers of his career by refusing to perform in Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s human rights injustices
Saudi Arabia is widely regarded as having one of the worst LGBT+ rights records in the world, frequently punishing people for homosexuality.
The countries de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sought to project a moderate, business-friendly image of his austere kingdom as he seeks to boost investment to diversify the economy away from oil.
A shift in the conservative Gulf state has included the lifting of a ban on women driving, allowing mixed-gender concerts and other events, and clipping the power of the once much feared religious police.
Saudi has also invested heavily in recent years in the tourism, entertainment and sports sectors, even as a strict crackdown on dissent remains.
But despite the country’s attempts to present a reformist image, many things – including homosexuality and atheism – are illegal in Saudi Arabia.
While punishments for same-sex relationships are not outlined under the law in Saudi Arabia, they are strictly prohibited under Sharia law, from which the country draws its legal framework.
It comes after Rod was offered a $1million deal to perform in Qatar, but turned it down because of the Gulf state’s human rights record.
Discussing the controversy surrounding the World Cup host nation – where homosexuality is illegal – the singer said he thought it would be wrong to play a set there.
‘I was actually offered a lot of money, over $1m, to play there 15 months ago,’ Rod told the Sunday Times .
‘I turned it down. It’s not right to go. And the Iranians should be out too for supplying arms,’ he said in reference to drones supplied by the country to Russia, which was barred from the tournament.
The Mirror reported that Rod said: ‘I’m grateful that I have a choice whether or not to perform in Saudi Arabia. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices… women, the LGBTQ community, the press.’
It comes after Rod was offered a $1million deal to perform in Qatar, but turned it down because of the Gulf state’s human rights record
He added that he thinks supporters attending matches in Qatar – where being gay can lead to imprisonment and even the death sentence for Muslims – ‘have got to watch out’.
Stewart has been considered an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, previously saying he was ‘surrounded by gay men in the 70s’.
One of the rocker’s records, The Killing of Georgie, is about the murder of a gay friend and came out in 1976 when few mainstream songs discussed the experiences of gay men.
He said it would have been ‘good’ to sing the song as a protest during the opening ceremony of the football tournament.
The songwriter’s comments come as a number of stars face backlash for attending and promoting the Fifa World Cup, which begins next week.
David Beckham has faced severe backlash for accepting a reported £10m to be an ambassador for Qatar 2022, particularly as he has previously been considered a supporter of the gay community.
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