The Hollywood star welcomed the lifting of the death penalty.
George Clooney has confirmed that he will continue with his boycott of Brunei-owned businesses after the country confirmed it wouldn’t enforce the death penalty, but would keep it in place.
After the law was confirmed back in March, Clooney led a campaign calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels. “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,” he wrote in an op-ed for Deadline.
“Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”
Clooney’s campaign was backed by figures like Sir Elton John and Dua Lipa, and last month the TV Choice Awards announced it wouldn’t hold its awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel over the new laws. Sir Richard Branson also called on businesses in countries hostile to LGBTQ rights to lobby for equal laws.
Clooney welcomed the removal of the death penalty, calling it a “huge step forward after a giant leap backwards” but highlighted how the law was still in place.
In a new statement, he said: “The financial institutions stepping up had a huge impact.” He added that the backlash against Brunei would send “a very crucial message to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia that there is a cost for enacting these laws.”
He then added: “Having said that, the law to stone their citizens is still in place, meaning that as soon as the pressure dies down they could simply start the process of carrying out executions.
“So in reference to the boycott everyone should do what they feel is correct. For my family and me we simply can’t walk away until this draconian law is no longer on the books.”
Even though the death penalty will not be enforced in Brunei, homosexuality will remain illegal. People who are convicted face a maximum jail sentence of ten years, and potentially 40 lashes with a cane.
Posting on Facebook, The Brunei Project, an LGBTQ organisation in the country warned that little would change. “The fact that these laws are not being repealed remains a concern,” they wrote.
“They should never have been implemented in the first place and there is nothing stopping the Brunei Government from lifting the moratorium at any time. LGBT+ Bruneians may still be fined, whipped or jailed.”
And even though the death penalty may not be enforced, there are still a few countries like Iran or Qatar where the punishment is still in place.
There are several charities that help LGBTQ people living in countries with discriminatory laws, including All Out, Amnesty International, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, Rainbow Riots and Stonewall. Donations are essential.
You can also contact your local representatives to encourage them to speak out against discriminatory laws.