Calls to strip Sultan of Brunei of honours for backing stone-the-gays law

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Kings College London is under pressure to strip an honour given to the Sultan of Brunei – due to his country’s rules on stoning to death people who are gay.

In April, Hassanal Bolkiah gave approval to Brunei’s revised penal code, which urges death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

The Sultan, whose family has governed Brunei for 600 years and whose fortune is estimated at $13 billion (£7.75 billion), received an honorary knighthood from the Queen in 1992 and has been awarded a string of honours by British universities.

The Times reports King’s College London awarded the Sultan an honorary law doctorate in 2011 and the following year renewed a contract with the Brunei health ministry to train dentists and doctors.

Last year the college’s Centre for Defence Studies won a contract to train executives in the Sultan’s ministry of defence, which includes sending academic staff to Brunei.

The King’s College London students’ union called yesterday for the doctorate to be withdrawn.

Anthony Shaw, the union spokesman, said: “We are ashamed to know that we count someone who regards the rights of their fellow man so low as a fellow student at our university.”

A spokeswoman for King’s College said that it would “continue to monitor Foreign Office advice” on its dealings with Brunei.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Cohen, the founder and publisher of PinkNews, is due to address students at this year’s college graduation on equality and LGBT rights on Friday. It is expected that he will question the college’s links to Brunei in light of the anti-gay controversy.

The Sultan owns several luxurious international hotels under The Dorchester Collection brand.

A string of celebrities, including Ellen DegeneresStephen Fry, Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne in April began a boycott campaign against The Dorchester Collection, famous for its Beverly Hills venue.

Beverly Hills council asked the Sultan to sell his Beverly Hills hotel because of his support for the draconian penal code.

In the UK, the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) announced it will not stage its awards dinner at The Dorchester Hotel in London.

Gay rights charity Stonewall held its annual Equality Dinner at The Dorchester on Park Lane in April.

Last month, the charity attracted criticism for criticising the nature of the boycott, whilst failing to say if it would hold future events at the hotel.

Stonewall’s Acting Chief Executive Ruth Hunt confirmed three days later that it would no longer use The Dorchester Hotel for events.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Deben has called on all organisations to shun using the hotel.

Last month, the Chief Executive of the Collection, Christopher Cowdray, stated his company’s commitment to equality and called on the boycott to end.

US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour became the latest celebrity to join the campaign last week.