THERE has been international condemnation as this week the Kingdom of Brunei brought in laws that included death by stoning for gay sex and adultery. The small South East Asian state is effectively a complete dictatorship, with the Sultan acting as both king and prime minister, giving him unprecedented powers. The global LGBT community think he has hugely abused these powers by making Brunei the first country to adhere to sharia law, which includes the medieval punishment for what people get up to in their personal lives.
Actor and activist George Clooney took many of the headlines by calling for a boycott of nine luxury hotels around the world that have close links to the sultanate, including one in London. This was welcomed and soon gained support from mega-stars such as Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres. However Brunei and the Sultan enjoy incredible wealth and could comfortably absorb the loss of a few hotel guests. What they may not like so much is the adverse publicity and the prospect of becoming a pariah on the world stage. Germany, France the UK and US have all been swift to categorically condemn the move and asked the Sultan to reverse the decision. The Human Rights Watch movement called it “barbaric to the core and archaic”. Brunei has a small but close knit LGBT community and, understandably, they are horrified and worried by recent developments. Rape, theft and insulting the Prophet Mohammed are now also all punishable by death under the draconian new laws.