MPs call on Oxford University to revoke Brunei sultan’s degree over gay death penalty

Two MPs who have urged Oxford University to revoke the Brunei sultan's honorary degree

Two Oxfordshire MPs have urged Oxford University to revoke the Sultan of Brunei’s honorary degree over the country’s introduction of the death penalty for gay sex—as a petition to the world-leading institution tops 50,000 signatures.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and Labour MP Anneliese Dodds wrote a letter to vice chancellor Louise Richardson on Friday (April 5) stating that the university has a “duty and responsibility to ensure that its name is not tied to such gross violations of human rights and the persecution of LGBTQ+ people.”

Their letter, which was also addressed to registrar Gillian Aitken, comes after a petition calling on Oxford University to revoke the academic honour topped more than 50,000 signatures.

The petition was set up in response to a statement sent to PinkNews by the university, in which it initially said it “will not be rescinding” the 1993 honorary degree it awarded to Bruneian ruler Hassanal Bolkiah.

The spokesperson, however, issued an updated statement on Thursday afternoon (April 4), telling PinkNews that, while it condemned Brunei’s new penal code, “at present, the university has not taken any decision on rescinding the Sultan of Brunei’s 1993 Honorary Degree of Civil Law by Diploma.”

MPs tell Oxford university it has a “duty” to revoke Sultan of Brunei’s honorary degree

In their letter, Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and Dodds, MP for Oxford East, write: “The University of Oxford must be inclusive and open to all, setting an example globally.

“It is essential that LGBTQ+ people linked to your institution know that you recognise their rights and freedoms, and that you will advocate for and prioritise them on a global scale, wherever and whenever you can.

“It is time to listen to your University community and your conscience. Honorary degrees should reflect the ethos of the University, and to honour such a regressive, bigoted and dangerous head of state is wrong.”

The MPs go on to cite the petition, saying: “These signatures come from those who are hurt and angered by the lack of action from the University.

“We share, and support, their concerns.”

Commonwealth: Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

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

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