Anti-gay Sultan to keep honour given by college for ‘raising healthcare standards’ in Brunei

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The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has refused to revoke an honour given to the Sultan of Brunei on the basis that he is ‘committed to raising healthcare standards’ in his country, despite a law which means gay people can be stoned to death.

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

In January 2013 the Sultan was given the honour of becoming ‘Companion of the College’ by the RCGP.

When asked whether the college would rescind the honour, especially given that it hires out its facilitates for weddings, including for same-sex couples, the college said it would not, but said it was against human rights abuses.

An RCGP spokesperson told PinkNews: “The RCGP in no way condones any abuses of human rights in the UK or abroad. We are an organisation committed to raising standards of healthcare for patients all over the world, and to this end have had a formal collaboration with Brunei for more than ten years supporting the development of primary care and the training of GPs in the country.”

On the fact that the college receives revenue from gay and lesbian couples hiring out the facilities, the spokesman said that was separately administrated.

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, including an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Oxford.

Yesterday Oxford University also refused to revoke an Honorary Doctorate in Law given to the Sultan. The university refused to comment.

Former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Deben, also yesterday criticised King’s College London for rejecting calls by the publisher of PinkNews to rescind another Honorary Law Doctorate given to the Sultan in 2011.

Labour MP Diane Abbott also questioned the decision of King’s College London not to rescind the honour.

PinkNews publisher Benjamin Cohen spoke at a graduation dinner at King’s at the weekend, and called for the honour to be withdrawn.

A King’s spokesperson said the college would not rescind the honour, given that it was awarded before the new law was introduced.