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 turned down one of the biggest offers of his career by refusing to perform in Saudi Arabia because of the kingdom’s human rights abuses.
The singer, 78, rejected the hugely lucrative deal over his discrimination against women, LGBTQ+ people and the brutal silence of his critics.
The mirror reported that Rod said: ‘I am grateful that I have a choice to perform in Saudi Arabia or not. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices…women, the LGBTQ community, the press.
“I would 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 has contacted Rod’s representatives for comment.
Career move: Sir Rod Stewart turned down one of the biggest offers of his career by refusing to perform in Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s human rights abuses
Saudi Arabia is widely regarded as having one of the worst LGBT+ rights records in the world, regularly punishing people for homosexuality.
The country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has sought to portray 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 included lifting a ban on women driving, allowing mixed-gender concerts and other events, and cutting the power of the once-much-feared religious police.
Saudi Arabia has also invested heavily in the tourism, entertainment and sports sectors in recent years, even as a strict crackdown on dissent remains.
But despite the country’s efforts to present a reform image, many things – including homosexuality and atheism – are illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Although punishments for same-sex relationships are not spelled out 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 $1 million deal to perform in Qatar but turned it down due to the Gulf state’s human rights record.
Discussing the controversy surrounding the World Cup host country – 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 15 months ago, over $1 million, to play there,” Rod told the Sunday Times.
‘I turned it down. It is not right to go. And the Iranians should also be out supplying weapons,’ he said, referring to drones supplied by the country to Russia, which have been excluded from the tournament.
The Mirror reported that Rod said: ‘I am grateful that I have a choice to perform in Saudi Arabia or not. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices… women, the LGBTQ community, the press.’
It comes after Rod was offered a $1 million deal to perform in Qatar but turned it down due to the Gulf state’s human rights record
He added that he thought fans attending matches in Qatar – where being gay can lead to prison and even the death sentence for Muslims – ‘should be careful’.
Considered an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, Stewart has previously said 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 starts next week.
David Beckham has faced serious backlash for accepting a reported £10 million to be an ambassador for Qatar 2022, particularly as he was previously seen as a supporter of the gay community.