Why didn’t Baroness Warsi speak out against Brunei’s anti-gay law when she met the Sultan?

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

The Chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust has accused Baroness Warsi of failing to publicly raise Brunei’s new penal code, which advocates the death penalty for homosexual acts, following a recent meeting with the Sultan of Brunei.

Writing for The Huffington Post, Dr Purna Sen mentioned that Baroness Warsi expressed “concern” with the Sultan during her trip to Brunei – but only behind closed doors.

Britain’s Human Rights Minister made no public comment at all when she met the Sultan in Brunei only last month,” Dr Sen said.

Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Baroness Warsi, who also has the title of UK’s ‘Human Rights Minister’, met with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on 16 April.

One day later, the United Nations condemned Brunei for adopting a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.

Despite a brief delay, the revised code is now being phased in over the next several months.

Dr Sen added: “Like Uganda, Brunei is a member of the Commonwealth. That organisation claims to base its work on the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Britain opposes the death penalty and supports the rights of LGBT citizens internationally. And yet at the very time that those principles are being flagrantly violated the red carpets are rolled out and the smiles and handshakes are proffered without a public word of criticism being uttered.”

Dr Sen also criticised the UK Government for this week holding a Pro-Uganda business forum in central London and hosting Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.

She added: “The Commonwealth should be ashamed of its failure to uphold its own values. And Britain should not leave itself open to suspicions that trading and financial interests come ahead of human rights every time. This week’s meeting with the Commonwealth Business Council was the ideal opportunity to send a clear public signal that it cannot always be business as usual. Sadly it was an opportunity wasted.”

LGBT campaigners staged a protest outside a building where Mr Museveni gave a speech yesterday evening.

A Ugandan law further criminalising same-sex sexual activity, allowing ‘repeat offenders’ to be sentenced to 14 years in prison, was given presidential approval by Yoweri Museveni in February.