Royal Brunei Airlines’ advertising campaign asks “how far will you go”. When launched, one wonders if their advertising agency realised how far the country of Brunei would go to create their own vision of moral purity? Brunei, a tiny nation which abuts Malaysia. this week quietly unveiled a law designed to wipe homosexuals from the country. In a world where many countries are better supporting the human rights of all of their citizens, Brunei is taking a proud step backwards ignoring scientific knowledge, UN conventions and international human rights laws.
From 3rd of April, 2019, homosexual practice, adultery, and rape will be punished with the death penalty by stoning. This says “how far they will go” on this issue. The new laws under Common Law and the Sharia Criminal Code have been on the books since 2014. Most people did not think they would actually apply them. They will apply to all people in Brunei, regardless of nationality or religion. I understand tourists will be impacted. Having said that, despite having the death penalty since British colonial times, the last time it was enacted was 1957.
Brunei has drawn widespread criticism for the implementation of these punitive laws. Politicians globally have attacked the plans and raised concerns with Brunei. The Labor party in Britain has asked the UK government to suspend Brunei from the Commonwealth. The Australian Government has condemned the laws described by the UN as “cruel and inhuman” and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had raised concerns directly with the Brunei Foreign Minister. Many organisations have called on the Australian government to ban Royal Brunei Airlines from landing in Australia.
George Clooney has called for a boycott of the hotels owned by Brunei Beverly Hills Hotel, Coworth Park (Ascot), London’s Dorchester, Hotel Bel-Air Hotel Eden (Rome), Hotel Principe Di Savoia, Milan, Le Meurice (Paris) and the Plaza Athenee in Paris. He said “every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels, we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.”
Others have joined his call including actresses Nancy Sinatra and Sharon Stone, professional tennis player Billie Jean King, singers Belinda Carlisle, Elton John and Rufus Wainwright, Filmmaker Dustin Lance Black and Ellen DeGeneres.
Transport for London who place ads on the London underground have pulled all ads for Brunei and Royal Brunei airways at the direction of the Lord Mayor [who is a Muslim, I note]. Virgin Australia has cancelled its staff travel arrangement with Royal Brunei. STA Travel has joined the protest: “We categorically don’t support laws that have recently been introduced in Brunei… which we believe are in direct contravention of basic human rights,” against Brunei’s introduction of the death It has stopped selling the carrier’s flights and passengers can get a refund on RB tickets. Royal Brunei had hoped to double the number of tourists visiting the nation by 2021. This goal may now be unreachable.
I have not traveled to Brunei or flown with Royal Brunei since the laws were first promulgated in 2014. It is a fascinating country, the people are warm and hospitable and the airline Royal Brunei provides a solid product but this situation is unacceptable. This tourist ad for the nation ironically says “Everyone is family“.
Brunei banned Christmas in 2015. In CS Lewis’ book The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, the repressive ruler of Narnia did the same and turned her enemies into stone statues. In that book, the cruel laws were reversed and all kind people lived in peace. One hopes the same for Brunei.
Want to take action on this human rights issue?
- Do not fly Royal Brunei Airlines or stay at Brunei owned hotels
- Sign this Petition for UK residents to sign and one for Australians
- This is Royal Brunei’s Board of Directors.You may wish to write to them.
- Contact your government and ask them to lodge a protest or ban Royal Brunei Airlines and the Brunei Royal family from entering your country
Post updated 4th April, 2019