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George Clooney urges boycott of Brunei-owned hotels

American actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels over the sultanate’s imposition of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery. “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,” Clooney wrote on the website Deadline Hollywood.

“I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way,” he added. Brunei is an absolute monarchy which has been ruled for 51 years by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The former British protectorate on Borneo island is surrounded by Malaysia. It has long depended on abundant, but declining, crude reserves and was plunged into recession when global prices fell about five years ago.

The nine hotels mentioned by Clooney are located in the US, Britain, France and Italy. Brunei will implement the harsh new penal code-which also mandates amputation of a hand and foot for theft-starting next Wednesday. Homosexuality is already illegal in the sultanate, but it will now become a capital offence. The law only applies to Muslims.

The government did not respond to AFP’s request for comment but on Saturday the prime minister’s office issued a statement saying the country has always practiced “a dual legal system,” one based on Islamic Shariah law and another on Common Law. “In fully implementing the Shariah Penal Code Order (SPCO) 2013 from 3rd April 2019, both systems will continue to run in parallel to maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith,” the statement said.

Brunei first announced the measures in 2013, but implementation has been delayed as officials worked out the practical details, and in the face of opposition by rights groups. In addition to his film-making work that has netted him two Oscars, Clooney is known for his globe-trotting political activism, especially his tireless campaigning to draw attention to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.–AFP

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