Nicki Minaj announced she will not longer perform in Saudi Arabia to support women’s and LGBTI rights.
The rapper and singer was scheduled to headline Jeddah World Fest on 18 July.
‘After careful reflection I have decided to no longer move forward with my scheduled concert at Jeddah World Fest,’ she said in a statement to the Associated Press.
She added she wants ‘nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia’. She came to the decision, however, after ‘better educating myself on the issues’.
‘I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression,’ she concluded.
‘This is what leadership looks like’
The Human Rights Foundation, which previously appealed to Minaj and other festival performers like Liam Payne to pull out, praised her decision.
‘This is what leadership looks like,’ said president Thor Halvorssen. ‘We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime’s transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt.’
Halvorssen added the Foundation hopes Payne, formerly of One Direction, follows her lead.
He also called out other artists who have performed in the country, such as Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey, criticizing their choices to ‘line their pockets with millions of dollars and stand with dictatorial governments as opposed to with oppressed communities and imprisoned human rights activists’.
Nicki Minaj has previously been called out
This is not the first time LGBTI activists have criticized the rapper and called for change.
Several figures, including Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, blasted Minaj for appearing on Harper’s BAZAAR Russia cover last year. While he justified his criticism by highlighting Russia’s anti-LGBTI policies, many also criticized him in turn for showing a lack of intersectional support.
Months later in August, people slammed homophobic lyrics on Minaj’s latest album.
Saudia Arabia’s anti-LGBTI record
Saudia Arabia is one of many countries where homosexual activity is still illegal and can be punishable with death.
In April, the country had its largest mass execution in its history. According to one man’s confession, at least five of the 37 who were beheaded were gay.
Only a month early, a teen in the country took his own life after coming out to his family. Before his death, his family had kicked him out and threatened to kill him if he ever came home.