Destinations

Brunei backflips on same-sex death penalty following international backlash

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

After implementing strict anti-LGBTQI laws in April, the Sultan of Brunei has extended a moratorium on the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality, following humanitarian and celebrity backlash.

When Brunei, a nation on the island of Borneo, with a population of some 400,000 people, announced it would implement its strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia laws, punishing adultery and homosexuality with death by stoning, the country was met with international condemnation.

Among those opposing the laws were the United Nations and Amnesty International, 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”.

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO), which also punishes theft with amputation and abortion with public flogging, with elements of the laws first adopted in 2014.

However, following the introduction of its latest roll-out of laws that were implemented on 3 April, and widespread criticism aimed at the country, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has since restrained his interpretation of the SPCO, with Reuters reporting the death penalty will not be imposed for homosexuality.

Reuters and The Guardian added that some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking; however, no executions have been carried out since 1957.

“I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO,”the sultan said in a speech ahead of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.

“As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.”

Responses to the announcement have been positive, but many critics have urged caution and restraint in receiving the news.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson tweeted the Sultan’s speech showed that the international campaign against Brunei was working, but “more pressure is needed”.

Tom Knight, a columnist for Gay Times Magazine, described it as “fantastic news”.

The announcement in April of the introduction of the SPCO prompted human rights agencies, celebrities and multinational companies to cut ties with Brunei and its state-owned assets.

George Clooney and Elton John were among the first to openly urge the international community to condemn the country led by Bolkiah – one of the wealthiest men in the world– by boycotting its state-owned accommodation.

The properties are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a state-backed property group owning nine luxury hotels across the globe.

Ellen DeGeneres later joined the fray in condemnation of Brunei, by urging her followers to boycott its state’s international accommodation, but went one further by publishing on social media a list of several international properties owned by Bolkiah.

Virgin Australia announced in April that it would end its staff leisure travel agreement with Royal Brunei Airlines, following harsh “penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia”.

STA Travel also joined the boycott, announcing last month that it would also no longer be working with Royal Brunei Airlines.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Hotels

Familiar face returns to Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific as GM

Crowne Plaza has opted not to hire a stranger to lead its iconic Terrigal hotel. However, that’s not to say there were a heap of creepy job applicants.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Emirates cans decision to suspend Aussie flights

The UAE’s flag carrier has performed a bizarre backflip, complete with a couple of half-twists and a pike. Meanwhile, the government has introduced stricter rules for returning Aussies.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Norwegian launches agent incentives across all three brands

As the saying goes, all good things come in threes … except if there were four incentives being offered, of course.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Victoria and Tasmania announce further easing of border restrictions

by Huntley Mitchell

The relaxing of domestic border restrictions continues apace, so apologies if we’ve missed any updates here. Our editor’s typing fingers are quite tired and sore.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

WATCH: Intrepid releases heartfelt video to remind the world why we travel

Travel Weekly’s deputy editor cried her eyes out while watching this video. Partly because it’s so beautiful, but mostly because she just really wants to be on the next plane out of here.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Australia’s first Mövenpick hotel opens its doors

Among the offerings at this new Accor hotel is a daily ‘Chocolate Hour’, which we can only assume involves bathing in Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Tourist slammed for daring Instagram video on the edge of 500m waterfall

A 25-year-old influencer has been heavily criticised for taking photos of herself on the edge of a very threatening-looking waterfall. Fair enough.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

CLIA names new global chairman

There’s been a major change in CLIA’s boardroom, and we’re not talking about the new fiddle-leaf fig.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Federal government accidentally advises visa applicants to travel overseas despite COVID-19 pandemic

Looks like someone at the Department of Home Affairs is getting fired after accidentally telling visa applicants to get overseas immediately during a global pandemic.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Savvy agent scores loads of cruise bookings during Victoria’s lockdown

Meanwhile, the only thing Travel Weekly’s editor achieved in lockdown was to eat his weight in potato chips while getting through Netflix’s entire catalogue.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Northern Beaches COVID-19 outbreak led to $7 billion loss for tourism industry: TTF

Avalon residents have reportedly gone back into quarantine to escape the blame for this huge loss to the tourism industry.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Federal government urged to introduce HECS-style loan scheme for small businesses

Could this turn out to be another much-needed funding opportunity for travel agents? Let’s bloody hope so.

Share

CommentComments