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Lesbian women forced to pay for cancelling Royal Brunei Airlines flights

Lydia Smith April 5, 2019
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A Royal Brunei Airbus 320 plane prepares to land at Changi International airport in Singapore on April 8, 2016. / AFP / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Two lesbian women have criticised travel organisation Flight Centre for asking them to pay cancellation fees to Royal Brunei Airlines.

Shannon, 26, and Jaqueline, 28, from Australia, booked the flights which had a layover in Brunei, but cancelled them after finding out about the new anti-LGBT laws in the southeast Asian state.

Brunei recently introduced a new penal code which allows death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex or adultery, while lesbian sex is punished by 100 lashes with a whip.

Flight Centre agreed to waive the cancellation fees, but the organisation told the women they still needed to pay $300AUS (£163) to Royal Brunei Airlines.

Speaking to News.com.au, Shannon said she was disappointed the travel company was not covering these fees too.

“It’s not that we can’t afford the cancellation fees. It’s just that it’s them putting a price on our life and that isn’t right,” she said.

“Being a second-class citizen on a holiday? I don’t need to do that.”

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah delivers a speech during an event in Bandar Seri Begawan on April 3, 2019. (Getty)

She said she feared being targeted on the four-hour stopover or during the flight.

A spokesperson for Flight Centre told the news site that they cannot waive the fees from RBA.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, but was previously punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The new penal code came into effect on 3 April.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said: “Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes.

“Sultan Hassanal should immediately suspend amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments.”

He added: “Every day that Brunei’s penal code is in force is a multifaceted assault on human dignity.

“Governments around the world should make clear to Brunei’s sultan that there can be no business as usual so long as the threat of whipping, stoning or amputation remains on the books.”

Related topics: Asia, Brunei, lesbian

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