Showing posts with label Brunei. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brunei. Show all posts

February 24, 2015

US Has new Strategies for Fighting Anti Gay Laws

 Home of Gay Hating Sultan of Brunei

Five out LGBT members of Congress objected to the inclusion of two countries with anti-LGBT laws in a free trade deal that the Obama administration is currently negotiating and seeking to fast-track it for adoption.

In a letter sent to the president on [Feb. 11], the members asked why Malaysia and Brunei are part of a trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which also includes several other nations in Asia and Latin America. The Obama administration has been seeking “fast-track” authority from Congress for the deal, which means whatever deal they negotiate is guaranteed an up-or-down vote.

 The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who has imposed a version of sharia law that restricts women’s rights and provides for death by stoning as a punishment for homosexual activity.
Labor unions and other advocacy groups have long voiced concern that TPP could set too low a bar for signatories, but the pact only became a serious concern for LGBT-rights groups last spring after the sultan of Brunei imposed a version of sharia law that included a punishment of death by stoning for homosexuality along with other sexual offenses. The states of neighboring Malaysia also have criminal sharia codes, and the government is appealing a recent court ruling striking down their provision criminalizing transgender people. The courts of another potential TPP member, Singapore, have recently rejected challenges to its sodomy law, but it was not singled out by the members of congress who signed this letter.

The letter is signed by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), David Cicilline (D-RI), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Mark Takano (D-CA), five of the six co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. The sixth caucus co-chair, Rep. Jared Polis, is the only out member of Congress who did not sign the letter. A Polis spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about why he did not sign onto the letter.

The five representatives wrote that the negotiations were continuing with Brunei and Malaysia in the wake of the Obama administration’s announcement in December that it would kick the Gambia out of a trade pact for African nations, in part because of the country’s recent crackdown on LGBT rights.

(For more information, read the full BuzzFeed article.)

The Washington Blade covered the appointment of the new LGBT rights advocate:
The State Department on [Feb. 23] announced it has named Randy Berry as its special envoy to promote global LGBT rights.

Berry, who is openly gay, has been the consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam since August 2012. …

“Randy’s a leader,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement to the Washington Blade. “He’s a motivator. But most importantly for this effort, he’s got vision. Wherever he’s served — from Nepal to New Zealand, from Uganda to Bangladesh, from Egypt to South Africa, and most recently as consul general in Amsterdam — Randy has excelled. He’s a voice of clarity and conviction on human rights. And I’m confident that Randy’s leadership as our new special envoy will significantly advance efforts underway to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.” …

Kerry in his statement to the Blade highlighted the State Department’s Global Equality Fund that seeks to promote LGBT rights around the world. He also noted homosexuality remains criminalized in more than 70 countries.

“At the same time, and often with our help, governments and other institutions, including those representing all religions, are taking steps to reaffirm the universal human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kerry. “So while this fight is not yet won, this is no time to get discouraged. It’s time to stay active. It’s time to assert the equality and dignity of all persons, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. And with Randy helping to lead our efforts, I am confident that’s exactly what we can and will do.”

(For more information, read the full Washington Blade article.)

Related articles

Activists want Gambia’s president banned from USA (
Archive of this blog’s coverage of Brunei
Archive of this blog’s coverage of Malaysia
Archive of this blog’s coverage of The Gambia
Archive of this blog’s coverage of Singapore

August 19, 2014

Sultan of Brunei where Gays get Stone to death wants the ‘Plaza', NYC


A US gay rights group protested on Monday against a possible purchase of New York's iconic Plaza Hotel by the sultan of Brunei, set to implement tough punishments for same-sex acts.
The sultan, via an intermediary, has offered some $US2 billion ($A2.1 billion) to snap up the famous hotel at the foot of Central Park, as well as the Dream Downtown in Chelsea and Grosvenor House in London, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Since May, oil-rich Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - who holds one of the world's largest fortunes - has begun implementing a new penal code that will eventually include tough sharia, or Islamic law, penalties such as death by stoning for sodomy and adultery.
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah.
The sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah. Is this gay or what? Photo: Reuters
Human Rights Campaign director of global engagement Ty Cobb said the sultan could start executing women, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, as early as next year and called on New Yorkers to take a stand against his plans. 
"The American profit stream that flows from his hotels back to his regime needs to stop," Cobb said in a statement.
"We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straight-forward message for the sultan: take your business elsewhere."
Celebrities, including British tycoon Richard Branson and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, have called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and Le Meurice in Paris. Other celebrities, including Russell Crowe and Kim Kardashian have urge celebrities to abandon the boycott on the Dorchester.
The three hotels the sultan is currently eyeing are owned by the Sahara Group, whose chairman Subrata Roy - known for his rags-to-riches story and mansion modelled on the White House - was jailed in India in May for contempt after he missed a court hearing in a long-running row with the country's capital markets regulator.
Earlier this month, a company official said the Indian tycoon, seeking to raise $US1.6 billion ($A1.7 billion) to win his release, has "interested" potential buyers for the trio of hotels.

May 5, 2014

Brunei First E.African Country to Adopt Sharia Law (stoning to heath for gays)

The first East Asian country to adopt sharia law, Brunei will be introducing its Islamic legal system in three phases. As of May 1, failure to attend Friday prayer services and pregnancy outside of marriage could result in fines or imprisonment. The second phase, to be implemented next year, will see theft punishable by amputation. By 2015 crimes such as blasphemy, adultery and consensual homosexual sex will warrant the death penalty by stoning.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the nation's absolute monarch, first proposed sharia law in the 1990s, and has called Islam a "firewall" against globalization, rising crime and modern influences like the Internet. 
Brunei, which shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia and Indonesia, already followed stricter Islam-inspired laws than its neighbors, banning the sale of alcohol and restricting the practice of other religions. Around 70% of its 412,000-strong population are Malay Muslims, but even non-Muslim Bruneians (who are mostly of Chinese descent) will be subject to the sharia code.
The UN criticized the move, saying the punishments constitute torture and are therefore illegal in the eyes of international law. The UN's spokesman for the high commissioner for human rights pointed to several studies that show that women are more likely to suffer at the hands of sharia law, due to deep-seated discrimination and stereotyping in the justice system. 
Although cases under the new sharia law will require an extremely high burden of proof and judges have been urged to act with discretion, criminalizing homosexuality and limiting female autonomy have a chilling effect and create an environment that negates human rights and inhibits personal freedom. This chilling effect is clear in other countries where homosexuality has recently been criminalized, such as Uganda. That country's strict anti-gay laws has already led to instances of anti-gay bigotry, including the public outing of reported members of the LGBT community by Ugandan tabloids.

Image Credit: Getty
In Brunei specifically, the changes "may open the floodgates for further human rights violations against women, children and other people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health and Islands of Southeast Asian Network on Male and Transgender Sexual Health said in a statement.
They added that the sharia penal code "significantly impacts the lives and sexual health of its citizens most vulnerable to HIV: men who have sex with men, transgender people and young people from key populations. Under this light, penalties directed to sexual relations between two consenting adults impede rights to health, privacy, confidentiality and equality before civil law."
Several countries have been adopting more progressive attitudes toward the LGBT community in recent years, decriminalizing homosexuality and legalizing same-sex marriage. Yet other nations are taking steps in the opposite direction: In February, Uganda passed a bill that makes "aggravated homosexuality" punishable with life imprisonment, just weeks after India's Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling, reinstating a ban on gay sex, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. 
Previously the maximum punishment in Brunei for gay activity wasa 10-year prison sentence. Homosexuality is illegal in around 80 countries, and Brunei now joins a handful of countries (spread across the Middle East and West Africa) where consensual gay sex — living openly, comfortably and naturally — could cost you your life. 

May 2, 2014

Brunei Implements ‘Stone to death' to gays and Adulterers


Brunei will begin a phased-in implementation of a new Islamic penal code from May 1 that prescribes stoning as punishment for adultery and homosexuality.
The law, which was expected to be introduced last month but was delayed, will be brought in over a three-year period. According tothe Brunei Times, offences that are penalized with fines and prison time will be part of the first phase, corporal punishment will be enforced in the second phase, and the death penalty will be implemented in the third.
The United Nations, international human rights groups that include Amnesty International, and LGBT advocacy groups in Asiahave condemned the law, which was first announced by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in October last year. At that time, Bolkiah characterized the measure as “a special guidance from Allah to us all,” adding that it is “now part of the great history of our nation.”
Midnight Poonkasetwattana, executive director of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) says, “This law carries heavy and degrading penalties that create barriers towards enjoying the right to sexual health, especially in accessing preventive measures that will protect people from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This law will further, if not lead to, discrimination against gay and transgender people.” 
At a press conference, a spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights said, “The criminalization and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private . . . violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, to equality before the law, the right to health and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The provisions of the revised penal code may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation.”
A number of gay rights groups have called for a boycott of hotel chains and properties owned by Bolkiah; these include The Dorchester, Coworth Park and 45 Park Lane in London; the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, and Hotel Eden in the United States; Principe di Savoia in Italy; and Hotel Le Meurice in Paris, theInternational Business Times reports.
Brunei shrinks, 1861-1905
While an LGBT conference that was to be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel has already been cancelled, a number of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osbourne and Stephen Fry, have announced they will be boycotting Brunei-owned businesses.

April 25, 2014

Conference Cancelled at Brunei (stones gays to death) Beverley Hills

The Beverly Hills Hotel                                                                                                

The LGBT rights group behind the secret conference for high-dollar LGBT donors announced Thursday it has cancelled plans to hold the event at the Beverly Hills Hotel following news that its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, would institute a policy in his country to punish gay people with death by stoning. The OutGiving conference, known this year as “Winning the Heartland,” was set as of Thursday to take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel from May 1-4, according to the registration website for the conference.

 The hotel is owned by Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, who announced this month plans for his country to start punishing same-sex relations with death by stoning in addition to subjecting perpetuators of rape, adultery and extramarital sexual relations to the same punishment. That policy would be consistent with Islamic Sharia law in the predominately Muslim country. After the Washington Blade raised the connection on Thursday with the Gill Action Fund, which organizes OutGiving, the organization said it had notified the hotel earlier in the day the conference would no longer take place at that location. Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, informed the Blade that a new venue would be chosen in the aftermath of the announcement from the sultan of Brunei. “In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property,” Fordham said. “We are seeking a return of all deposits.“  

The United Nations has already criticized the new policy in Brunei. Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law.”

Even before the latest policy announcement, Brunei had a law on the books unfavorable to gay people. Homosexual acts were punishable with up to 10 years in prison.
LGBT activists have previously targeted the Beverly Hills Hotel for its connections to Brunei and its anti-gay policy. Last year, the group Dump the Beverly Hills Hotel posted a quirky online video where individuals announced they were “breaking up” with the hotel unless its owners changed their homophobic ways.

Fordham didn’t immediately respond to a follow-up email asking why the Beverly Hills Hotel was chosen for OutGiving in the first place given the anti-gay policies of Brunei prior to the latest announcement and the criticism to which the hotel has been subjected.
The OutGiving conference is geared toward high-roller donors whose philanthropic giving each year exceeds $25,000 and who are interested in the LGBT movement. Tickets for this year’s conference are $1,750 per person. No media are permitted at the conference and attendees are told to keep the discussions during the conference a secret.

Leslie Lefkowitz, a spokesperson for the Beverly Hills Hotel, said in response to the OutGiving cancellation that conferences sometimes decide to change venues.
“In the hotel industry, it is not uncommon for organizations to change aspects of their corporate programs, including the scope, date and/or venues of planned events,” Lefkowitz said. “Anytime a valued business partner decides to alter their plans, we respect their right to do so and look forward to the next opportunity to be of service to them.”

During the 2012 OutGiving conference, which took place in D.C. at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, speakers included former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman; Prop 8 attorney Ted Olson; Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; U.S. congressional candidate Sean Eldridge; Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.); Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine); and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

by Chris Johnson


Featured Posts

A Mob of 10 Men Attacks a Gay Man in Arizona

Police are investigating, though they aren't calling the attack as a hate crime. BY  MATHEW RODRIGUEZ Ou...