George Clooney to maintain pressure on Brunei over anti-gay law
George Clooney has welcomed news that Brunei will not stone gay people to death, however the actor said he intends to maintain pressure on the small Asian country over its laws.
Clooney made the comments after the Sultan of Brunei announced on Sunday (May 5) that the country would not subject gay people to the death penalty after global backlash to its new laws.
The laws—which came into effect in early April—meant that gay men and those accused of adultery could be stoned to death as a part of Sharia law.
Brunei faced global backlash for the laws. George Clooney led calls for a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, a move which was later endorsed by high-profile figures such as Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John.
George Clooney said this might not be the end of Brunei’s anti-gay laws
In a statement released today (May 7), Clooney said the decision was a “huge step forward after a giant leap backwards” and pointed out that—despite assurances from the Sultan of Brunei—the law is still in place.
He also said the backlash to the laws sends “a very crucial message to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia that there is a cost for enacting these laws.”
He said the cost isn’t in people boycotting hotels, but is more to do with corporations and “big banks” who will no longer do business with them.
“The financial institutions stepping up had a huge impact,” Clooney said.
“Having said that, the law to stone their citizens is still in place, meaning that as soon as the pressure dies down they could simply start the process of carrying out executions.”
– George Clooney
“Having said that, the law to stone their citizens is still in place,” Clooney continued, “meaning that as soon as the pressure dies down they could simply start the process of carrying out executions. So in reference to the boycott everyone should do what they feel is correct.
“For my family and me we simply can’t walk away until this draconian law is no longer on the books.”
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Brunei promised a moratorium on executions
On Sunday, the Sultan of Brunei said in a speech ahead of Ramadan that he was aware that there were “many questions and misperceptions” around the introduction of Sharia laws, according to Reuters.
“As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.”
The Sultan also suggested that Brunei will finally ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture.
The campaign to boycott Brunei-owned hotels was given a lease of life in March when Clooney penned an op-ed for Deadline.
In his op-ed, Clooney wrote: “Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.
He continued: “Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”