Ellen DeGeneres has become the latest celebrity to urge travellers around the world to boycott Brunei hotels, following the news the country would introduce laws punishing homosexuality with the death penalty.
An LGBTI activist, Ellen DeGeneres joins fellow actor George Clooney and musician Elton John in their public condemnation of the new laws, which took effect as of Wednesday 3 April.
The laws will punish sodomy, adultery and rape with death by stoning; amputation for theft, and public flogging as punishment for abortion.
As the head of an extremely oil-rich nation, Hassanal Bolkiah, current Sultan of Brunei, is seen as one of the wealthiest men in the world – worth an estimated $20 billion US, according to Forbes.
The Sultan, also one of the longest serving monarchs in the world, owns and operates Brunei Investment Agency, which in turn owns nine luxurious hotels across the globe.
In a Facebook post yesterday, DeGeneres released the full list of hotels owned by Brunei’s sultan, urging the community to “spread the word” and “rise up” against the discriminatory laws.
DeGeneres, Clooney and John have each urged travellers to boycott hotels and properties owned by the Brunei government, with Clooney’s published statement damning the country’s incorporation of brutal Sharia law.
“On this particular April 3rd, the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone,” Clooney wrote in his opinion piece for Deadline.com.
The United Nations and Amnesty International have condemned the laws, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet describing the revisions as enshrining in legislation “cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach international human rights law”.
UN Human Right Chief @mbachelet urges #Brunei to stop new penal code that seriously breach international human law – incl. death by stoning. Brunei retains death penalty in law but has been abolitionist in practice since 1957.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) April 1, 2019
Brunei has defended its implementation of Sharia law – an Islamic legal system that outlines strict corporal punishments –, with the country claiming it has “always been practicing a dual legal system, one that is based on the Syariah (Shariah) Law and the other on Common Law.”
“I urge Brunei to maintain its de facto moratorium on the use of capital punishment,” Bachelet said, underlining that “human rights and faith are not opposing forces”.
“No judiciary in the world can claim to be mistake-free and evidence shows that the death penalty is disproportionately applied against people who are already vulnerable, with a high risk of miscarriages of justice.”
“Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion, as well as of religious minorities and non-believers.”