On April 3, Brunei passed a very severe syariah law to punish sodomy, adultery, gay sex, and rape with death by stoning, and theft with amputation.
This has sparked a global outcry, and many investors and companies are withdrawing their businesses from Brunie as a protest against this law.
According to Reuters and MalaysiaKini , the travel agents, London’s transport network and finance houses are among a rising number of companies on Friday to cut ties with businesses owned by Brunei to protest over the Sultanate’s introduction of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.
STA Travel, a global travel agency owned by privately-held Swiss conglomerate Diethelm Keller Group, said it would no longer sell flights on national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines.
“We’ve taken this stance to add our voice to the calls on Brunei to reverse this change in the law and in support of LGBTIQ people everywhere,” the company said in a statement.
Virgin Australia Airlines, the second biggest airline in Australia after Qantas, ended an agreement that offered discounted tickets on Royal Brunei Airlines for staff.
The move also prompted a corporate backlash after actor George Clooney and singer Elton John called for a boycott of hotels owned by the Southeast Asian country, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
Transport For London (TfL), which is responsible for London’s transport system, said it was removing adverts promoting Brunei as a tourism destination from the city’s public transport network due to “great public sensitivity”.
Deutsche Bank banned its staff from staying in the nine luxury hotels of the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by Brunei’s state-owned Brunei Investment Agency (BIA).
The UK-based Sovereign Wealth Centre estimates the BIA has US$39 billion of assets under management.
The Dorchester Collection made a public appeal, saying its values were “far removed from the politics of ownership”.
“We 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,” the Dorchester Collection said in a statement on its website.
But this did not prevent numerous organisations moving their events elsewhere.
British estate agent Knight Frank, property industry networking group Movers and Shakers, which has about 300 corporate members, and property investment company Landsec said they would not use Dorchester Collection hotels.
As well as owning the hotel group, the BIA holds about four percent of London-listed digital tech venture capital firm Draper Esprit PLC which it acquired in 2018.
Draper Esprit’s CEO Simon Cook (photo below) said the company “naturally abhors” the moves in Brunei but added the BIA bought shares on the open market and has no “influence either on our company culture or our investment decisions”. MalaysiaKini/Reuters