Destinations

Same-sex couple allegedly told by Smartraveller to “act heterosexual” ahead of Brunei stop-over

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

After contacting Smartraveller ahead of a planned trip to London through Brunei, a same-sex couple was reportedly told by an advisor to “act heterosexual” on their stop-over in the country.

Ahead of their flights to London – which would include a four-hour stop-over in Brunei after the changes to its laws and flights with the nation’s airline, Royal Brunei Airlines – a same-sex couple contacted Smartraveller over concerns for their safety.

Brunei has proposed the introduction of strict Islamic laws that would make sodomy, adultery and rape punishable by death-by-stoning. Public flogging as a punishment for abortion would also apply, as well as amputation for theft, once the proposed revisions become law.

The changes to the Bruneian penal code, incorporating the full Sharia penal code, are set to run in parallel with common law from 3 April, announcing the country’s denouement on sex and gender equality.

The pair had voiced their initial concerns to Webjet, which they had booked their flights through, and were advised by the company that they would not receive a refund.

The company advised the couple to directly contact Royal Brunei Airlines about their concerns over same-sex discrimination – a prospect, the couple explained to Webjet, which made them uncomfortable.

Webjet advised them they could cancel the couple’s flights, costing them more than $2000. Webjet later provided the couple with a full refund.

After reportedly speaking to an “annoyed” advisor who was unaware of Brunei’s discriminatory law changes, the couple spoke to another member of Smartraveller’s staff in a separate call.

Speaking to a different advisor, after the couple requested an “official policy” from Smartraveller – a branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – the pair were given incredibly insensitive and insubstantial advice.

“If you act heterosexual, you should be fine,” the advisor allegedly said.

In response to the couple’s allegations, a DFAT spokesperson told Travel Weekly: “We respect the privacy of our consular clients, and encourage the complainant to share their concerns directly with the department.”

On 27 March, DFAT updated its travel advice for Brunei, advising travellers that the country’s Sharia penal code would take effect in Brunei from 3 April.

The department has also created travel advice for LGBTI travellers travelling overseas, with links to country-specific travel advisories and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

At a press conference in Penrith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne addressed concerns over Brunei’s proposed incorporation of Sharia law:

“This is an issue which the government … have taken up with the government of Brunei. We are strong supporters of human rights right across this region and more broadly, including in Brunei,” Senator Payne said.

“We are absolute opponents of the death penalty in all circumstances, so any suggestion that laws would facilitate the application of the death penalty is a matter of concern to Australia.”

“These are communications we will continue to have with our counterparts. I conveyed our views as recently, again, as last week to Erywan, to the Foreign Minister of Brunei, and we will continue to do so. They are matters of some human rights concern.”

Brunei is reportedly the only country in the world that maintains landing rights in Australia, while enshrining laws for the punishment and execution LGBTIQ people.

United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has condemned Brunei’s proposal, describing the revisions as “draconian”, maintaining that they “would enshrine in legislation cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach international human rights law”.

George Clooney and Elton John join Bachelet in an accumulating list of celebrity and political figures in condemnation of Brunei.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Tourism Australia creates interactive map to help navigate domestic travel

Just in time for the long weekend, Tourism Australia has developed a map to help Aussies figure out where they can have their next holiday.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Trans-Tasman flights out of Canberra could begin on 1 July, according to proposal

by Christian Fleetwood

Canberra Airport is taking expressions of interest for proposed flights between Canberra and Wellington, which could take off within a month.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent Wrap: Travellers Choice smashes Aussie Specialist Program, Savenio’s new COVID-19 advisory board + MORE

Put a big full stop on your week by having a sticky beak at what Aussie travel agents have been up to.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“We simply have not done enough”: Expedia CEO promises bigger diversity push following George Floyd’s death

This is a very welcome pledge from Expedia’s boss, particularly given the company’s executive leadership team is made up entirely of white men.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Aloha Friday Wrap: HTO’s new family holiday guide, Hawaiian Airlines updates health measures + MORE

Have you been dreaming of a holiday to Hawaii for you and your clients while in iso? Continue here with the help of these latest updates from the US island state.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Hawaii Tourism Oceania releases new family holiday guide

Hawaii Tourism Oceania (HTO) has released its 2020 Hawaii Family Guide to assist agents in planning family holidays to the Hawaiian Islands.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines takes partnership with Kealopiko to the next level

With the help of Hawaiian Airlines, Kealopiko has distributed over 5,000 masks through the Ola Nui Kakou Project on Molokai, Maui, Kauai, Niihau, Hawaii Island, and Oahu.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Get inspired by videos and virtual messages from these Hawaiian hotels

While your clients may not be able to stay at any of Hawaii’s incredible hotels right now, that doesn’t mean they can’t pay them a virtual visit.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines implements new health measures to combat COVID-19

Hawaiian Airlines has enhanced the health measures throughout its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Hooray! Qantas and Jetstar increase domestic flights

Like Travel Weekly’s editor, this news is sure to have you making plane engine sounds with your mouth in celebration.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel Wrap: Langham expands to the Gold Coast, IHG launches domestic recovery campaign + MORE

Keen to convince your clients that hotels really are on the mend? Introduce them to this week’s Hotel Wrap.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Aviation workers hold rallies across Australia to demand JobKeeper access

The rallies took place as new research revealed that 70 per cent of workers have been stood down, with 40 per cent unable to receive JobKeeper.

Share

CommentComments