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Sam Smith speaks out after Brit Awards keep gendered categories

Sam Smith (Matt Crossick/PA)
Sam Smith (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sam Smith has spoken out after the Brit Awards decided not to scrap gendered categories for its upcoming 2021 edition.

The pop singer, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them, said they looked forward to a time when awards shows were “reflective of the society we live in” in a post to their 15.3 million Instagram followers.

The Brits academy has faced pressure to do away with its male and female-specific awards, but on Friday released a statement to its voters saying it would stand by them for at least this upcoming event.

It said: “Looking to the future we still have a lot of work to do in the coming years to evolve the Brits.

“The process of change isn’t something that can be fixed in just one campaign and we are committed to working together with the industry to evolve the show to be as inclusive and relevant as possible.”

Smith, 28, later wrote on Instagram: “The Brits have been an important part of my career, one of my earliest achievements was winning Critics Choice in 2014.

“Music for me has always been about unification, not division.

“I look forward to a time where award shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let’s celebrate everybody regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”

Brit Awards 2015 – Show – London
Sam Smith on stage at the Brit Awards in 2015 (Yui Mok/PA)

Their recent album Love Goes, which reached number two in the charts in October 2020, is eligible for the British album of the year award.

The Brits will not be placing non-binary artists into gendered categories unless the artist requests that they do so.

Four-time Grammy winner Smith came out as non-binary in a lengthy Instagram post in September 2019.

“After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” they said at the time.

Brit Awards 2021
Rina Sawayama (Brit Awards/PA)

Criteria for eligibility at the Brits has already changed this year, allowing non-British citizens to be nominated in British categories as long as they have been a permanent resident for more than five years.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which organises the Mercury Prize and the Brits, revealed its new rules following last year’s controversy over the Japan-born singer Rina Sawayama.

She has lived in the UK for some 26 years but was told she could not compete for the country’s most prestigious music awards because she was not a British passport holder.

Earlier this week, she was named as one of three nominees for the rising star Brit Award – previously won by Smith, Adele and Ellie Goulding.

This year, the Brit Awards will take place on May 11 after being postponed from February due to coronavirus restrictions.

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