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Travellers prey to Brunei’s anti-gay laws even when not in the country

Calls for Royal Brunei Airlines to be banned from Australia grow

The fallout from Brunei’s newly implemented full sharia law penal code continues, with fresh concerns for travellers. Under the new law, people can be executed for adultery, gay sex and blasphemy. 


However, the rules affect not only those entering the Southeast Asian nation, but anyone travelling on Brunei owned planes or vessels, such as flag carrier Royal Brunei Airlines.


Image AAP


According to the ABC, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) says it is particularly concerned "that the penal code applies to all those who board a Brunei-registered aircraft even when in Australia". 


Consequently, the group has called on Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack to ban Royal Brunei Airlines from landing in Australia, where it currently services Melbourne and from June, Brisbane. 


"Brunei [is] the only country with laws that allow for the execution of LGBT people to have landing rights in Australia," VGLRL said in a statement. 


An online petition demanding Royal Brunei be banned from Australia has garnered around 15,000 signatures. 


Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has cancelled all staff travel on the carrier following the country's introduction of the laws. 


Whilst condemning the penal code, the Australian Government has not raised its level of advice for those wishing to travel to the Asian nation, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advising Brunei-bound Aussies to "exercise normal safety precautions". 


A DFAT spokesman told the ABC it took the concerns of all travellers “very seriously”, and pointed to a dedicated page for LGBTI travellers where there is information specific to individual countries including Brunei. 


But the VGLRL says the government needs to do more to protect those at risk. 

Several high profile celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres recently called for a boycott of hotels owned by the Brunei sovereign wealth fund, which include the Beverly Hills Hotel and London’s Dorchester Hotel.


Would you feel safe travelling on Royal Brunei Airlines?


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 5 April 2019

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