Oxford Student Union calls for anti-gay Sultan of Brunei to be stripped of honours

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The Student Union at Oxford University has unanimously passed an emergency motion condemning the decision of the university not to rescind an honour given to the Sultan of Brunei

In April the Sultan, 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, including an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Oxford.

The emergency motion was passed unanimously by the Student Union council on Wednesday evening which will now request that the university clarify why it has thus far refused to revoke the Sultan’s Honorary Degree.

The Student Union will also encourage the university to strip the Sultan of the honour, and reveal any funding it has received from him.

Students will also contact and provide support to the Student Unions at University of Aberdeen and King’s College London, whose universities have both refused to rescind honours given to the Sultan.

Oxford SU LGBTQ Officer Daniel Templeton told PinkNews: “The current lack of action by the University is highly disappointing and shows a serious lack of regard for LGBTQ students in Oxford. The fact that OUSU passed a unanimous motion to condemn this Sultan of Brunei’s honourary degree and call for it’s revocation demonstrates the anger felt by Oxford students. We hope that Oxford University will reconsider its position regarding the Sultan’s degree and look forward to working with the student unions in King’s College London and Aberdeen to achieve the same; only then can these institutions claim that they support LGBTQ rights.”

Responding to PinkNews questions about whether the university would remove the honour on Tuesday, an Oxford University spokesperson said it would not, and declined to comment further.

Former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Deben, 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.

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publisher Benjamin Cohen spoke at a graduation dinner at King’s at the weekend, and called for the honour to be withdrawn.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

According to sources at King’s, the Student Union there is also preparing to raise a motion with the university.