Ed Sheeran secured two major wins at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs) in Budapest as stars joined together to celebrate the LGBT community.
The British singer-songwriter won the best artist award, claiming it from inside the fur-lined boot of an eye-catching car parked backstage, before also securing best song for Bad Habits.
Sheeran – wearing a suit splashed with yellow, orange, green and more for the occasion – had opened the EMAs as it returned to a live in-person show after last year’s ceremony was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saweetie hosted the showpiece event in the Hungarian capital and led the support for the LGBT community.
The rapper insisted it is “always important we respect each other” as she relaxed on a chaise longue wearing a bikini in a mock spa location – a nod to Budapest’s spa culture.
The US star, who adopted multiple looks throughout the show, added to the enthusiastic audience: “That’s why it’s so important we stand up for the LGBTQ+ community.”
MTV recently stood by the location of the awards show despite the country’s recent passage of legislation widely condemned as anti-LGBT.
Korean pop superstars BTS snared four awards, including best pop and best group, but Justin Bieber failed to win a single category despite leading the way with eight nominations.
Yungblud, who closed the ceremony with a fire-fuelled performance, declared his best alternative award as a “tribute to individualism”.
The British star recalled being “terrified” as a youngster to be who he wanted to be.
He added: “If you are out there and you feel you cannot be who you are – you can be.
“Keep fighting, keep being brilliant.”
Years And Years singer Olly Alexander, presenting Best Video, added of the nominees: “They all support same sex adoption as family is family.”
Lil Nas X scooped the award for Montero (Call Me By Your Name).
He accepted the award via a pre-recorded video, claiming he was having to “work his shift at Taco Bell”.
British singer and actress Rita Ora handed over the award for Best Latin to Columbian singer Maluma.
German-born pop star Kim Petras became the first transgender performer at the awards show while Maneskin, who won the best rock category ahead of Coldplay and Foo Fighters, were among the other acts to play.
At one stage, Saweetie went from host to award winner as she emerged victorious in the best new category.
She thanked God and her family before praising her fans for supporting her “since I was rapping in my car”.
She added: “This is just the beginning.”
On the red carpet, the stars in attendance also made clear the importance of the ceremony taking place in Budapest.
OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder told the PA news agency: “It sends a huge message.
“I’m from an extremely conservative, right-wing city and family and religious community so until I was 20 I had the same kind of thoughts of like ‘Oh, that’s bad, this is good’.
“And now I’m sitting here going it’s absurd we even have to make these statements that everyone is equal and showing love and equality.
“These are things that should have been the absolute bedrock of constitutions and humanity for the last 100 years but, you know, it takes a minute for humans to catch up and I think we’ve finally caught up.”
Northern Irish singer JC Stewart said it was a “dream come true” to attend the EMAs and be nominated for an award, having busked outside the event a decade ago.
He told PA: “It’s pretty crazy, it’s a dream come true for me – I busked outside the EMAs 10 years ago in Belfast so I never thought I’d be here today. It’s all a bit much in a lovely way.”