Activists rallied in Brisbane on Saturday to protest Brunei’s new sharia-based laws that include the death penalty for homosexuality.
The protest was held outside the Royal on the Park Hotel, which is one of a number of hotels worldwide owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
Dozens of protesters attended the rally to condemn the homophobic law and to call for a boycott of Brunei-owned businesses.
PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent said that Australia owed it to the people of Brunei to stand up for their rights, and that the religious laws set a dangerous precedent.
“We all know that rights don’t come easily and we know that it took us long enough to gain equality for LGBTIQ people here, and we don’t need the conservatives in our government to consider repealing our legislation or stepping back in to the dark ages under the guise of religious freedoms and one sided versions from the Bible,” Argent wrote on Facebook.
“I can’t imagine the fear people will be feeling due to the repressive laws and legislation now imposed in Brunei—one of the tiniest, but wealthiest Islamic countries.
“As a parent of a gay male the possibility of having my son murdered by his own country is beyond my comprehension. Being gay is not a choice or preference. We are born with our sexual orientation already in place, it can’t be changed.”
Argent called for action, asking the community to contact the Brunei embassy in Canberra as well as federal members of parliament to voice their concerns.
LGBTI rights advocate Rodney Croome of just.equal has also urged action on Brunei.
Croome welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s letter condemning the sharia-derived laws.
“The government’s view is clear: criminalisation of consensual same-sex relationships is unacceptable,” Morrison wrote.
“We believe in equal human rights for LGBTI persons and an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTI across the region and globally.”
Croome called for sanctions against Brunei if the “brutal” laws are not repealed.
“My hope is that there will be continued condemnation of the repressive Brunei laws by the Australian government, regardless of who wins the May 18 election,” he said.
“If Brunei doesn’t change course, the Australian government should cease diplomatic ties with Brunei, cease using services owned by the Brunei government and move to have it suspended from the Commonwealth.”