George Clooney and Elton John help change gay death penalty

George Clooney and Elton John are among a number of celebrities who convinced the Sultan of Brunei to drop the death penalty provisions in incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex.

Brunei was widely criticised after it announced its interpretation of Islamic laws, or sharia, early last month, which involve punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning.

The sultan now says a moratorium on the death penalty would be extended to the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO).

Clooney has promised to keep up pressure on Brunei, where gay sex remains illegal and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

He says the moratorium on executions is a “huge step forward after a giant leap backwards”, but that “the law to stone their citizens is still in place”.

“For my family and me, we simply can’t walk away until this draconian law is no longer on the books.”

The law’s implementation, which the United Nations condemned, prompted celebrities and rights groups to seek a boycott on hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

George Clooney led the boycott action, while celebrities including Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres joined in the outcry. At the same time, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive and the Police Federation of England and Wales suspended links with the country.

Several multinational companies have also banned staff from using the sultan’s hotels, while some travel companies have stopped promoting Brunei as a tourist destination.


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