- Companies, universities, and celebrities are making moves on a boycott of Brunei-owned services after the country introduced a law making homosexuality punishable by death.
- Eight five-star hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei quit Twitter on Wednesday amid a vocal campaign to boycott them on social media.
- Virgin Australia, STA Travel, and Queensland’s state government in Australia have also made moves to disassociate themselves from Brunei.
- Several UK universities are under pressure to revoke honorary degrees given to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
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Brands, universities, and celebrities are part of a growing movement taking action against Brunei-owned enterprises after the tiny Asian nation introduced a new law punishing homosexuality with the death penalty.
As of Wednesday, the punishment for homosexuality in Brunei became death by stoning, after Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced several reforms to the country’s penal code, which has been based on Islamic Shariah law since 2014.
Here’s a full run-down of who has taken, or is taking, a stand so far.
A viral campaign to boycott nine hotels owned by the Sultan – one of the world’s richest heads of state, worth around $20 billion – was stoked by celebrities and reached a peak on Thursday when eight hotels deleted their Twitter profiles.
This image, listing the hotels, and messages calling a boycott was shared tens of thousands of times on social media, including by celebrities such as George Clooney, Dua Lipa, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Luke Evans, Billie Jean King, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Tomorrow, the country of #Brunei will start stoning gay people to death. We need to do something now. Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up. pic.twitter.com/24KJsemPGH
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 2, 2019
The Twitter accounts belonging to the following hotels disappeared:
- The Dorchester (London)
- 45 Park Lane (London)
- Coworth Park (Ascot, UK)
- The Beverly Hills Hotel (Los Angeles)
- Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles)
- Le Meurice (Paris)
- Hotel Plaza Athénée (Paris)
- Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan)
One of the Sultan’s nine hotels, The Hotel Eden in Rome, Italy, remains on Twitter, but has a protected account.
The City of Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin tweeted: “We must not support these establishments when lives are on the line! #Boycott.”
I’m outraged & horrified today at the nation of #Brunei's announcement of an #LGBTQ death penalty law. Both the @HotelBelAir and @BevHotel are owned by #BruneiInvestmentAgency & #SultanofBrunei. We must not support these establishments when lives are on the line! #Boycott pic.twitter.com/2EzctpkvMr
— LA Controller Ron Galperin (@LAController) March 29, 2019
On Thursday, Virgin Australia cancelled a deal with Brunei’s airline Royal Brunei where Virgin staff got discounted tickets on Royal Brunei flights.
On Wednesday, Transport for London, which operates the London Underground, said it will no longer show a Brunei tourism advert labelling it “the abode of peace” (the nation’s official title.)
— Vincent McAviney (@VinnyMcAv) April 2, 2019
Transport for London said: “This advert will be removed from our network.”
STA Travel, a large international adventure holiday booking company, tweeted on Friday saying it will no longer arrange flights for customers on Royal Brunei Airlines.
In protest at recent changes to the law in Brunei (also applicable on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels), we’re proud to announce that STA Travel has stopped selling tickets on Royal Brunei Airlines. #bruneiboycott
— STA Travel UK (@STATravel_UK) April 5, 2019
On Wednesday, Aberdeen University in Scotland said it’s considering rescinding the honorary degree it gave to the Sultan in 1995, as did Kings College London, who gave him an honorary doctorate in 2011.
Nearly 47,000 people have signed a petition demanding the University of Oxford revoke an honorary degree given to Bolkiah in 1993. The university has refused to retract it.
- Drew Angerer/zgetty Images
On Friday, the organisers of the UK’s TV Choice Awards, which were due to be held at The Dorchester, owned by Brunei, said they will find a new venue.
The 2019 TV Choice Awards will not be held at The Dorchester Hotel. This year's venue will be announced in due course.
— TV Choice (@TVChoice) April 5, 2019
The state government of Queensland, Australia, has put on hold plans to partner-up with Royal Brunei Airlines, after a petition to ban the airline from Australia gained momentum.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones told news.com.au: “We suspended negotiations with Royal Brunei as soon as we learnt about changes to the law, allowing the persecution of Brunei’s LGBTIQ community.”