The Southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei has gone ahead with imposing new provisions of a draconian sharia law Penal Code, which include: whipping, torture and death by stoning for same-sex acts and amputation of a hand and a foot for those found guilty of theft.
The passing of the law on Wednesday April 3 has caused the international community, including Hollywood actor George Clooney to demand action against the “cruel and inhuman” penalties.
Lending his opinion to Deadline, Clooney wrote, “Let that sink in”.
“In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone”.
Clooney declared that he would be boycotting the nine luxury hotels around the world owned by the Brunei Investment Agency which is in turn owned by Brunei’s monarch, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he called on his fans and supporters to do the same.
“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,” said Clooney.
“Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way”.
Sir Elton John has backed the boycott, “I commend my friend, George Clooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of Brunei – a place where gay people are brutalized, or worse – by boycotting the Sultan’s hotels,” he tweeted.
“I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect – as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world”.
The pop-star continued: “Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay. We must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable. That’s why David and I have long refused to stay at these hotels and will continue to do so. We hope you will join us in solidarity”.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented”.
“Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers,” she asserted.
The Brunei government has defended its right to impose the extreme legislation. “Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws”, the Prime Minister’s Office said in statement.
“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,” read the statement.