Human rights campaigners call for Brunei to be removed from the Commonwealth

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Human rights campaigners are calling for Brunei’s membership to the Commonwealth to be suspended over its decision to introduce death by stoning as punishment for homosexuality.

The law, which began to be phased in last week, replaces the maximum ten-year prison sentence for homosexuality with death by stoning in the Islamic state.

The move has led to boycotts of luxury hotel chain the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.

Peter Tatchell, the Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation said: “Brunei should be suspended from the Commonwealth. Its plan for Sharia law executions violates the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter. We are also urging a global boycott of the Sultan of Brunei’s Dorchester chain of hotels and his other business interests.”

He has written to the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, urging Brunei’s suspension.

The letter reads: “We are appalled that Brunei is phasing in harsh new Sharia laws, including stoning to death for sodomy, adultery and other extra-marital sex. It is also introducing the death penalty for blasphemy, apostasy and insulting the prophet or holy texts. Such draconian, anti-human rights policies are incompatible with the human rights values of the Commonwealth Charter. Brunei should be suspended from the Commonwealth until such laws are repealed.”

Mr Tatchell continued: “We are alarmed that the Commonwealth general secretary, Kamalesh Sharma, has not spoken out against these intolerant, bigoted laws. He should be giving a lead by publicly urging Brunei to abide by the Commonwealth Charter.  

“It is outrageous that Brunei is turning the clock back by reverting to the barbaric medieval punishment of stoning people to death.
“Most world leaders have been shamefully silent.
“The Peter Tatchell Foundation is coordinating with campaigners in other countries to plan a global boycott of the Dorchester hotel chain and other investments owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. He is the country’s Prime Minister and also one of the world’s last absolute monarchs, with sweeping, dictatorial powers.
“We appeal to celebrities, politicians and business leaders to boycott the Dorchester hotel group worldwide – and to cancel existing bookings. The Sultan should not be rewarded financially. He should be denied the prestigious patronage of Hollywood actors, sports stars, world leaders and corporate executives.
“We want to empty Dorchester hotels of A-list celebrities until these laws are repealed. We are urging people not to meet, eat or sleep in Dorchester hotels. Big name stars, including Stephen Fry and Ellen DeGeneres, are already backing the boycott call.
“We oppose the death penalty for any offence, not just homosexuality. State executions are a violation of human rights, whether carried out by Iran, China, the US or Brunei,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell calls on those opposed to the new law to email their local MP to urge a protest to the Brunei High Comissioner, emailing to protest the Prime Minister of Brunei to complain, or emailing the Brunei representative to the UN.