Destinations

George Clooney and Elton John call for boycott of Brunei-owned hotels

Following the proposed implementation of laws against “sodomy, adultery and rape”, punishable by death by stoning, two celebrities have urged travellers to boycott Brunei-owned luxury hotels.

Brunei, a nation on the island of Borneo, with a population of some 400,000 people, will reportedly implement Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for the offences of adultery and homosexuality on Wednesday.

The country’s strict new legislation, which incorporates Sharia law – an Islamic legal system that outlines strict corporal punishments – was announced in 2014, and has been rolled out gradually ever since, CNN reports.

The latest phase of implementation, including the brutal new provisions, was quietly announced on the Brunei attorney general’s website in December last year.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, were quick to express horror at the penal code, which will also order amputation as a punishment for theft.

Hollywood actor George Clooney has also joined in global condemnation of the Brunei government, urging travellers to boycott hotels and properties owned by the Brunei government.

“They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let’s be clear, 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,” Clooney said in an opinion-piece for Deadline.com.

Brunei Investment Agency owns nine hotels in the United States and Europe, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, The Dorchester in London, and the Plaza Athenee in Paris.

Following Clooney’s public statement, musician Elton John joined the call to boycott Brunei-owned hotels over the country’s anti-gay laws.

Brunei has defended its implementation of Sharia law, 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.”

The two systems will run in parallel starting April 3, a statement from the office of Brunei’s Prime Minister said, and will “maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith.”

“The Syariah Law, apart from criminalising and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, it also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.”

In response to the law changes, which will take effect on Wednesday this week, Out in India – which specialises in providing travel experiences for LGBT and all travellers to India– has urged leisure and business travellers visiting Brunei to be aware.

“Homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei since it was a British Colony and more recently in 2014 became punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment,” a spokesperson for Out in India said.

“It is now reported that the country has become the first in the region to adapt Islamic sharia law and next week’s changes would allow whipping and stoning to death for Muslims that are found guilty of adultery, sodomy, gay-sex and rape: effective Wednesday 3rd April.

“It is unclear to what extend visitors caught in these acts will be punished, though Out in India advise all visitors to be reminded that this is the governing law for all those in the country.

“Earlier this week, it was announced that Royal Brunei Airlines will be taking over the marketing for the national tourism board, and the airline is due to commence operating Brisbane flights four times weekly with its A320NEO fleet from 11th June 2019. Royal Brunei Airlines currently have a daily service to/from Melbourne.”

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