Brunei adverts scrapped from London tube amid growing backlash

An advert for Royal Brunei Airlines at a London tube station

Posters promoting Brunei as “an abode of peace” are to be removed from London’s tube network, after its sultan made gay sex a crime punishable by death by stoning.

Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley was one of many who objected to the campaign for Royal Brunei Airlines, which is owned by the Brunei government. He wrote to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (who is also chair of Transport for London) asking for the posters to be removed.

In a response, TfL wrote: “This is an issue of great public sensitivity and controversy so the advert will be removed from our network.

“The advertisement was considered compliant with our advertising policy when it was submitted and accepted.”

A spokesmen for Khan told PinkNews that he “believes the new laws being introduced in Brunei are abhorrent, and is pleased that TfL is taking swift action to remove this advert.”

The new laws being introduced in Brunei are abhorrent.

—Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Copley told PinkNews that he is “delighted” at the mayor’s “swift action”.

“Londoners were rightly outraged that an airline owned by a government that has just passed a law making gay sex punishable by death by stoning was advertising on our public transport network,” he said.

The politician called upon Prime Minister Theresa May to publicly condemn Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

“We need the government to act by putting pressure on Brunei to repeal this barbaric law and respect the rights of its LGBT citizens,” he said.

“Perhaps it could start by rescinding some of the numerous honours the British state has bestowed upon the Sultan of Brunei over the years.”

Brunei faces boycotts

TfL’s decision to scrap Brunei adverts comes amid a growing backlash against the anti-LGBT country.

Virgin Australia has cancelled an arrangement with Royal Brunei, under which the former’s staff could book discount travel on the latter’s flights.

The airline also has a one-way agreement allowing Brunei customers to book tickets on Virgin Australia flights, which remains in place.

Brunei Sultan

Brunei’s sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In Scotland, Aberdeen University has said that it will review an honorary degree bestowed on the sultan in 1995 as “a matter of urgency.”

However Oxford University—which also honoured the sultan in 1995—has confirmed that it will not follow suit.

“We share the international condemnation of Brunei’s new penal code and back the United Nations’ call to stop the code entering into force,” an Oxford spokesperson told PinkNews.

Ellen DeGeneres tells fans to ‘rise up’ against Brunei

Elsewhere, a group of celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres have called for the boycott of a chain of hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, and the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in the US.

Ellen DeGeneres urged Twitter followers to “rise up” and “spread the word”.

Elton John and David Furnish have also thrown their weight behind the campaign, writing in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay.

Elton John backs boycott of Brunei hotels ahead of anti-gay law

Ian Gavan/Getty

“We must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable.

George Clooney was the first to publicly call for the boycot in an op-ed for Deadline, but was later forced to defend himself against accusations of virtue signalling.

“It is true that the sultan won’t be terribly hurt by a boycott, but the scores of companies he funnels money through will distance themselves. That’s what a boycott does,” the actor wrote.