George Clooney (Pic: Michael Vlasaty)
Hollywood actor George Clooney is among those demanding action against Brunei which is set to impose death by stoning as a punishment for homosexuality.
New provisions of a draconian sharia law Penal Code will come into effect from 3 April in the southeast Asian kingdom. They will 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.
“Let that sink in,” wrote Clooney in an opinion piece for Deadline. “In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.”
He has called for a boycott of 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.
“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.”
Culture and tradition are no excuse
Politicians have also begun joining the backlash against the extreme laws. “No one should face the death penalty because of who they love,” tweeted UK Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt. “Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT+ community and those who defend their rights. LGBT+ rights are human rights.”
Former US Vice President Joe Biden also commented that, “Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral. There is no excuse – not culture, not tradition – for this kind of hate and inhumanity.”
In a statement, Antonio Panzeri, Chair of the European Parliament and its Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), urged the Brunei government “to withdraw the laws punishing LGBTI with whipping and stoning and to bring its penal code into full compliance with universal human rights obligations.”
He added: “Sexual orientation and gender identity are in essence individual choices, which should, under no circumstances, be subject to punishment, legal codification or discriminatory practices.”
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has been ranked among the wealthiest individuals in the world, worth an estimated $20 billion in 2008, and is said to live in a 1,800-room palace.
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts is currently imposed in 6 UN member States.
The nine hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency are:
The Dorchester, London
45 Park Lane, London
Coworth Park, UK
The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
Le Meurice, Paris
Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
Hotel Eden, Rome
Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan