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The Brit Awards, which showcases the UK music industry annually, has announced plans to scrap male and female categories ahead of next year's event. Replacing the Best Female and Male Artist award will be a single prize for Best British Artist, organisers of the ceremony announced yesterday (22 November).
The move comes after calls from musicians and fans alike to make the awards more LGBTQ+ inclusive. For several years, musicians including Sam Smith and Will Young have spoken out about how the current system excludes non-binary artists.
Smith, who is non-binary, felt unable to enter last year's awards due to the gender-based categories – despite their Love Goes album reaching number two in the UK charts. In a now-deleted post on Instagram, Smith told their 14.8 million followers that the show needed to be more "reflective of the society we live in."
"The Brits have been an important part of my career," the 29-year-old singer added. "Music for me has always been about unification not division. I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let's celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class."
The show has awarded prizes based on gender since it began back in 1977, although in 2019 organisers promised to reevaluate how categories would be judged. "If you were starting the awards from scratch today, you'd probably do it on these terms," said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesperson for the music industry body which runs the awards.
Castaldo added: "Why shouldn't the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran be able to go head to head and be judged as artists... assuming they're nominated?"
The change means Dua Lipa and J Hus will go down in history as the last-ever celebrities to win Best Female and Male Artist at the Brit Awards. The shift was welcomed by Dua Lipa's manager, Ben Mawson, who told the BBC: "It's good to see the Brits continuing to make progress to a more inclusive awards show that puts talent first. It's a step that we welcome."
Next year's event will take place on 8 February at London's O2 arena. Adele, who recently released her first album in six years, is already expected to sweep up several awards.
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