The organisers of The Brit Awards have said that they will be scrapping their separate prizes for male and female acts, and will be opting for gender-neutral awards instead in 2022, in an attempt to make the ceremony more inclusive.
The show, due to be held in February, will be changing categories such as best male and female solo artist and best international male and female solo artist, instead giving awards for the best artist and best international artist.
The Brits have felt ample pressure to change the categories to ungendered, and they said that the move will celebrate the artists “solely for their music and work, rather than how they choose to identify or as others may see them, as part of The Brits' commitment to evolving the show to be as inclusive and as relevant as possible".
Singer Sam Smith won the critics’ choice award in 2014, and has been a prominent figure in calling for the move, as they identify as non-binary. They said that they want awards shows to be “more reflective of the society that we live in”.
Furthermore, four new categories will be added to the celebration in February: awards for alternative/rock act, hip hop/grime/rap act, dance act, and pop/R’n’B act. Winners of each category will be decided by a public vote. The voting academy, made up of 1,200 music industry experts across media, artists, labels, publishers, promoters, and retailers, will be deciding the rest of the categories. The song of the year award will also now recognise featured artists, rather than solely the lead artists and named collaborators.
Comedian Mo Gilligan will host next year’s event, taking over from Jack Whitehall. Gilligan said: "It's an absolute privilege to host the 2022 Brit Awards. I'm truly honoured to be asked, we're already in the extensive planning stages and all I can say is, I promise we're going to give it all we've got to create an incredible night for music fans everywhere. Let's go!” Clara Amfo and Maya Jama will present the nominations show as well as hosting the red carpet show.
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has stated her disagreement with the Brits’ decision, calling the move “quite a sad decision. I would like to see how that would work in terms of fair gender representation.” She continued by saying, “If you wanted to look at who used to win awards for novels and many things in the past, men always dominated, and my concern would be that women were not fairly represented moving forward. So I would just be concerned on the gender balance issue.” Piers Morgan has unsurprisingly also shared his disdain for the decision, writing on Twitter, "What a load of woke garbage. Won’t be long before it’s illegal to call yourself a man or woman."
Brit Awards chair and co-president of Polydor, Tom March said: "It is important that The Brits continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible. It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender."