Calls for Australian boycott of Brunei over introduction of gay death penalty


royal brunei airlines
Photo: Jahurz/Wikimedia Commons

Brunei’s airline should be banned from Australian airports in protest of the south-east Asian country’s “barbaric” anti-gay laws, Victoria’s Thorne Harbour Health has said.

People in the small Asian nation who engage in same-sex activity can be flogged and stoned to death under strict new Islamic laws set to take effect in the country next week that have outraged human rights advocates.

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Thorne Harbour Heath have called on the Australian Government as well as the broader community to take “swift and decisive action” against the “barbaric” laws to protect gender, sex, and sexually diverse communities.

“This is essentially state-sponsored brutality against people of diverse gender and sexuality and a violation of basic human rights — there’s no place for it,” Thorne Harbour CEO Simon Ruth said on Friday.

“We need to take action collectively to say laws specifically punishing our LGBTI communities for being who they are have no place in society.

“The Federal Government must immediately revoke Royal Brunei Airlines’ right to land in Australia to keep sexuality and gender diverse Australians safe from Brunei’s new laws.

“There should also be a review into the effectiveness of [the] government’s travel warnings for LGBTI people.”

The Smarttraveller website published an update on March 27 advising that from April 3 “the full sharia penal code (law) takes effect in Brunei. It applies to Muslims, non-Muslim and foreigners even when on Brunei registered aircraft and vessels. Under this code some offences can attract physical punishment while others attract executions.”

But as of Friday morning, the government’s level of advice for those traveling to Brunei remains unchanged at “exercise normal safety precautions,” raising “serious questions” about the utility of applying travel advice only at general level, Thorne Harbour Health said.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the department had updated its travel advice for the country, noting that the law “applies to Muslims, non-Muslim and foreigners even when transiting on Brunei registered aircraft and vessels.”

“We take the issues of Australian travellers, including those from the LGBTI community, very seriously, as evidenced by thestandalone page for LGBTI travellers and our tailored advice for individual countries, including Brunei,” the spokesperson said.

“The Smartraveller website is a resource for all Australians travelling overseas, to help them make their own informed decision about whether or not to travel to or via a particular country.”

A petition started by Melbourne man Neil Pharaoh is calling for the federal government and the opposition to ban Royal Brunei Airlines from flying into and out of Australia, and has received more than 2,300 signatures.

‘Halt the cruel and inhuman laws’

Earlier this week, Amnesty International called for an immediate halt to the “cruel and inhuman” laws.

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George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Belinda Carlisle and Martina Navratilova are among the celebrities to call for a boycott of nine luxury hotels in cities around the world that are owned by the Sultan of Brunei, to protest the new laws.

“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,” Clooney wrote in a column for Deadline.

“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.”

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