A rally against Brunei’s anti-LGBTI laws will be held outside Brisbane’s Royal on the Park Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, on April 13.
Advocates have organised the protest to be held in the Botanical Gardens across the street from the hotel’s Alice St location in Brisbane’s CBD.
The Sultan of Brunei first announced his intent to introduce the sharia penal code in 2014, prompting protests that saw the implementation of the laws delayed several years.
After it was reported the laws would come into effect on April 4, STA Travel has banned sale of tickets on state-owned Royal Brunei Airlines in its agencies worldwide, while high-profile figures like George Clooney and Elton John have spoken out in favour of a boycott of Brunei-owned services, including the Royal on the Park and several Hollywood-favoured Los Angeles hotels.
The Queensland government also announced it had abandoned plans for a deal with Royal Brunei Airlines which would have seen the carrier run a service out of Brisbane four times a week.
Saturday’s rally in Brisbane will be Australia’s first large-scale protest against the laws and is designed to put pressure on Sultan Hassanal Bokliah’s significant global business interests.
“Brunei is a country in our region, and a member of the Commonwealth, so it’s entirely appropriate that we take action,” said Bill Rutkin, one of the protest’s organisers.
“Arguably, the average Australian can’t do much about this issue – but what we can do, we should do. Boycotting this hotel and having a protest is something we can do.
“The corrupt regime in Brunei is perverting the holiness and the sanctity of religion for their own vile political purposes. We must do all we can to stop it,” Rutkin said.
National spokesperson for PFLAG Shelley Argent said the situation in Brunei represented a human rights emergency in our region.
“At long last, LGBTI Australians enjoy many of the rights taken for granted by others, including marriage equality – but on Australia’s doorstep, people can now be murdered by their government simply for being gay, or for adultery, blasphemy or apostasy,” she said.
“We owe it to our neighbours in Brunei to stand up for their rights.
“I hope Australians from all walks of life – gay, straight and otherwise – support this boycott and the protests against the Sultan of Brunei’s Australian business interests,” Argent said.
Equality campaigner Rodney Croome of just.equal said he “urges who believes in human rights and equality to rally against the Sultan of Brunei and the barbaric new laws he has imposed on his country”.
“We need to send a message to the Federal Government to cut ties with Brunei and vote it out of the Commonwealth until it reforms its laws,” Croome said.
A petition calling on the federal government to enact a ban on Royal Brunei Airlines flights, which can be signed by clicking here, has garnered over 21,000 signatures.
The rally will take place at 1pm on Saturday April 13 and is set to feature a range of speakers. For more information, click here.