Banks ban employees from staying at sultan of Brunei-owned hotels in response to new law punishing homosexual sex & adultery with death

Media reports that multinational banks are banning their employees from staying at hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei after the Southeast Asian country announced a new law imposing death by stoning for those convicted of gay sex, adultery, and rape. Bank of America, CitiGroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Nomura are reported to have banned employees owned by the Dorchester Collection hotel group. Dorchester Collection responded that the new law is a political and religious issue that should not be taken against its hotels and employees.

Following international pressure, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced that Brunei will extend a moratorium on death penalty on those convicted of having gay sex and adultery. However, the law still stands and the moratorium may be lifted at any time.

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30 April 2019

Wall Street banks boycott Brunei-owned hotels after kingdom makes homosexuality punishable by death

Author: Kate Rooney, CNBC

A growing list of multinational banks are banning employees from staying at hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei, where homosexuality and adultery is punishable by death. J.P. MorganGoldman Sachs and others...have barred staff from staying at properties owned by the Dorchester Collection hotel group, run by the Brunei state-owned investment agency. The ban includes luxury names such as Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, and London’s Dorchester and 45 Park Lane... A spokesperson for J.P. Morgan confirmed the report to CNBC but declined to comment further.

Deutsche Bank announced its boycott of Brunei-owned properties.... Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have confirmed to CNBC that they are no longer using the Dorchester Group. CitiGroupJefferiesMorgan Stanley and Nomura have also banned employees from staying at nine luxury hotels owned by the small Southeast Asian nation, according to Financial News Network. Bank of New York Mellon joined the ban too, according to a spokesperson for the bank....

“The new laws introduced by Brunei breach the most basic human rights, and we believe it is our duty as a firm to take action against them,” Stuart Lewis, chief risk officer and member of the management board at Deutsche Bank, said... “We are proud to support LGBTIQ rights around the world, and as part of this we regularly review our business partnerships to ensure that they are aligned with this principle.”... In response to the boycotts, the Dorchester Collection said in a statement that they “understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played out in our hotels and amongst our 3,630 employees.”

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6 May 2019

Brunei backs down on gay sex death penalty after international backlash

Author: Ben Westcott & Rebecca Wright, CNN

Brunei will not impose the death penalty on those convicted of having gay sex, in an apparent bid to temper international condemnation following its roll out of strict new Islamic laws... [T]he country's ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, said he would extend a moratorium on capital punishment and ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture... [C]elebrities, including George Clooney and Elton John, joined rights groups in seeking to boycott hotels owned by the sultan, while large companies including JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank told their staff to avoid using Brunei-owned hotels in the wake of new laws.

...The sultan announced the kingdom's long-term moratorium on the death penalty would also extend to the new penal code, although he didn't elaborate whether this was a new decision... Despite his announcement on the death penalty, Brunei's leader said Sunday he stood by his new penal code overall. "Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country. They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the public as well as respecting the privacy of individuals," he said. There was widespread relief among LGBT and human rights activists in the wake of the announcement. Celebrations though have so far been muted, amid concerns that the laws themselves remain in place.

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6 May 2019

Brunei won't enforce death-by-stoning law for gay sex, sultan says

Author: Bill Chappell, NPR

The sultan of Brunei says his country will extend its moratorium on the death penalty to include newly enacted laws punishing homosexual acts and adultery with death by stoning, in an apparent response to weeks of criticism and a high-profile boycott... [C]elebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John urged a boycott of luxury hotels owned by the country's investment agency. Many of those properties are in Europe and the U.S., including the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and The Dorchester in London... "I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the [Syariah Penal Code Order]. ... We are conscious of the fact that misperceptions may cause apprehension," the sultan said in a statement. "However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident."

The statement went on to say that for decades, the small Southeast Asian nation has observed a moratorium on imposing the death penalty under its common law and that this will now cover cases brought under Brunei's Islamic laws... The sultan made no mention of changes to other strict punishments under the laws, including amputations for thieves and whipping women convicted of having lesbian sex.

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25 May 2019

Sultan of Brunei returns honorary Oxford degree after backlash against death penalty for gay sex and adultery

Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation, South China Morning Post

24 May 2019

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has returned an honorary degree awarded by Britain’s Oxford University after a global backlash led by celebrities including George Clooney and Elton John for proposing the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.

Nearly 120,000 people had signed a petition by April calling on Oxford University to rescind the honorary law degree awarded in 1993 to the sultan....

Oxford University said the sultan had decided to hand back the honorary degree...while it was reviewing its decision to award it....

...The country sparked an outcry when it rolled out its interpretation of Islamic laws...punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning.

...The law, which the United Nations condemned, had prompted celebrities and rights groups to seek a boycott on hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Several multinational companies have since put a ban on staff using the sultan’s hotels, while some travel companies have stopped promoting Brunei as a tourist destination....

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