Mixed signals on how to oppose Brunei’s harsh anti-gay law

Human rights supporters raised their voices worldwide in protest over Brunei’s plan for a new law that could impose death by stoning as the punishment for gay sex and for adultery. But actor George Clooney’s call for a boycott attracted criticism from a Brunei-focused human rights group.

The sultan of Brunei and his wife. (Photo courtesy of CNN)
The sultan of Brunei and his wife. (Photo courtesy of CNN)
The news coverage included these items:
  • Brunei’s new law says gay people can be stoned to death. Here’s how the world is reacting » CNN
  • Hollywood actor George Clooney: Boycott sultan of Brunei’s hotels over gay death penalty » Deadline Hollywood
  • Brunei to punish adultery and gay sex with death by stoning » The New York Times
  • Australian gov’t tells gay couple with stopover in Brunei that if they act straight, they “should be fine” » News.com.au
  • Conservative U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: “I agree with George Clooney” » Cruz Twitter

George Clooney: ""Are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?"
George Clooney: “Are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations [by patronizing Brunei-owned hotels]? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”
Clooney called for a boycott of nine hotels — three in the UK, two in the US, two in France and two in Italy — owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. They include the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Bel-Air in Los Angeles, the Dorchester in London and Le Meurice in Paris. Several other celebrities, including Elton John and Jamie Lee Curtis, joined him in vowing to boycott Brunei-owned hotels.

However, a Brunei-focused human rights group stated:

“The Brunei Project does not currently support a boycott of Brunei-owned businesses and we do not believe that such an approach will be productive.

“While the boycott campaigns that emerged in the United States and elsewhere in 2014 were useful in drawing attention to what was happening in Brunei, the boycotts did not enjoy widespread support from within the country, where they were viewed as being a direct attack on the people of Brunei and the country as a whole, rather than the policies and laws of the Brunei Government.”

However, the group underlined its support for dialogue to end abhorrent laws, including the use of torture.

Some of the hotels targeted in the boycott issued statements about their support for human rights. The Dorchester Collection, which includes hotels in Los Angeles, London and Paris, stated:
“Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

The compilation of news coverage above is courtesy of a news compiler who does not want to be publicly thanked.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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  1. Also, campaign for Royal Brunei Airlines to be banned from your country’s airspace, and revoke their landing rights at your airports. It’s a wholly government owned enterprise.

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Lebanon's location in the Middle East. (Map courtesy of CountryReports.org)

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