Brisbane rally planned outside Brunei-owned hotel to protest anti-gay laws


sultan of brunei
Photo: Facebook

A rally will be held in Brisbane this Saturday opposite a hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei to protest his country’s introduction of the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy and apostasy.

The Royal in the Park Hotel Rally in the City Botanic Gardens, across the street from the hotel at 152 Alice Street, will start at 1pm this Saturday and will be the first large-scale rally in Australia to oppose the sultanate’s draconian new laws.

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Speakers and protesters will attend the event, which is designed to put pressure on the Sultan’s business interests and help force a back down from the 72-year-old ruler, Hassanal Bolkiah.

The harsh laws, enacted in Brunei last Wednesday, have drawn condemnation from across the globe, and sparked a boycott of the Sultan’s elite Dorchester Collection hotels overseas, led by celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres.

Bill Rutkin OAM, one of the organisers of the Brisbane rally, said it was vital for Australians to do all they could to stop the violence against innocent people.

“Brunei is a country in our region, and a member of the Commonwealth, so it’s entirely appropriate that we take action,” he said.

“Arguably, the average Australian can’t do much about this issue – but what we can do, we should do. Boycotting this hotel and having a protest is something we can do.

“The corrupt regime in Brunei is perverting the holiness and the sanctity of religion for their own vile political purposes. We must do all we can to stop it.”

Shelley Argent OAM, the national spokesperson for the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) group, will speak at the rally and said the situation in Brunei represented a human rights emergency in our region.

“At long last, LGBTI Australians enjoy many of the rights taken for granted by others, including marriage equality – but on Australia’s doorstep, people can now be murdered by their government simply for being gay, or for adultery, blasphemy or apostasy,” she said.

“We owe it to our neighbours in Brunei to stand up for their rights.

“I hope Australians from all walks of life – gay, straight and otherwise – support this boycott and the protests against the Sultan of Brunei’s Australian business interests.”

Renowned LGBTIQ activist and just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome has also thrown his weight behind the Brisbane event.

“I urge everyone who believes in human rights and equality to rally against the Sultan of Brunei and the barbaric new laws he has imposed on his country,” he said.

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“We need to send a message to the Sultan that he is an international pariah no better than ISIS – and we need to send a message to the Federal Government to cut ties with Brunei and vote it out of the Commonwealth until it reforms its laws.”

A Facebook event page for the Brisbane demonstration can be found here.

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