Shell under pressure over Brunei links


Brunei’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (imagemaker /

Royal Dutch Shell, which touts its support for the LGBT community, is under growing pressure over its relationship with the anti-LGBT Brunei government.

The kingdom’s amended Sharia penal code, which includes punishing homosexuality and adultery with stoning to death, came into force recently. The religious-based laws also allow for the amputation of limbs for stealing and 100 lashes with a whip for lesbian sex.

According to CNN Business, 90% of Brunei’s oil and gas revenue – it’s biggest source of income – is generated through a joint venture between Shell and Brunei’s government and monarch, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Some of the company’s Dutch shareholders, represented by the organisation Eumedion, are now voicing their concerns about the links. Eumedion promotes responsible and sustainable corporate governance on behalf of institutional investors from the Netherlands.

The organisation is expected to bring its concerns to Shell that its problematic partnership with Brunei is in conflict with the company’s values of diversity and inclusion.

The company’s own website states: “At Shell, we support and enable remarkable people from every background, and strive to be a pioneer of LGBT inclusion in the workplace.” Shell is also known to sponsor Pride events in a number of countries.

“It is expected from the company that they live up to their policies on inclusion and LGBT equality, wherever they have operations,” Eumedion said in a statement to CNN Business.

Brunei’s harsh new laws, described as “barbaric” by Human Rights Watch, have sparked protests and calls for boycotts of Brunei owned businesses, including the sultan’s luxury hotels.

On Monday, it was reported that multinational investment bank JPMorgan Chase joined others such as Deutsche Bank by barring staff from staying in any of the dozen hotels around the world.

Sultan Bolkiah is the prime minister, minister of defence, minister of finance, head of Islam, head of customs, head of the supreme commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the inspector general of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

He 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.

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