Veteran musician Sir Rod Stewart has publicly rejected the opportunity to perform in Saudi Arabia, stating his desire to draw attention to human rights abuses in the country, particularly affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

The 78-year-old singer revealed he had previously turned down an offer exceeding a million dollars to perform in Qatar ahead of last year’s World Cup.

In a post on Instagram, Sir Rod shared, “I have the privilege of choosing whether or not to take the stage in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, many who live there—like women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and journalists—don’t have that luxury. By refusing to perform, I hope to shed light on the human rights violations occurring there and spark meaningful change.”



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The music icon’s decision echoes a report from the Mirror, stating that the nation’s dismal human rights records led him to decline a gig there, even though the remuneration for this performance was reported to be substantially more than the earlier Qatar offer.

Saudi Arabia criminalises homosexuality and has been known to implement capital punishment for certain offences. This move by Sir Rod follows a similar stand taken by American rapper Nicki Minaj, who cancelled her 2019 concert in Saudi Arabia after facing public scrutiny. Minaj expressed her support for women’s rights, the LGBTQ+ community, and freedom of speech at the time.

While several artists like Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, and the Black Eyed Peas have opted to perform in the country, Sir Rod Stewart’s decision adds to the ongoing discourse about celebrities’ responsibilities regarding human rights issues.

Amnesty International has also criticised sports figures like former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and boxers Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for their professional engagements with Saudi Arabia. Fury is scheduled for a bout in Riyadh against ex-UFC world heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou on October 28.

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Jordan Henderson claimed that his move to Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia would actually serve as a platform to address and improve the LGBTQ+ rights situation in the country—a comment that Amnesty International labelled as falling directly into Saudi Arabia’s “sports-washing” agenda.