LGBTI commuters in London might find their train journeys slightly delayed today (3 April) as they stop and stare at a certain ad on the tube.
As Brunei implements the death penalty for gay sex, an advertisement running on the TfL network promoting Brunei as a tourist hotspot – complete with the country’s name in rainbow – is under fire.
Commuters have, so far, spotted the ads in Vauxhall (arguably London’s second largest LGBTI scene), North Greenwich, Hammersmith, and Mansion House tube stations.
But TfL have confirmed to Gay Star News that the two-week ad campaign will be ‘removed’ and future campaigns ‘reviewed against’ their advertising policy.
Last month, Gay Star News broke the news that Brunei was quietly rushing to implement the Sharia Penal Code.
What does the ad say?
In colorful lettering and a fun font, the advertisement is for Royal Brunei Airlines. The country’s flagship carrier is wholly owned by the government of Brunei Darussalam.
— Vincent McAviney (@VinnyMcAv) April 2, 2019
‘Our skyscrapers are the oldest in the world,’ the ad states. With a dramatic eagle-eye shot of Ulu Temburong National Park in Temburong. Replete with fog floating above the trees.
Moreover, it captions Brunei as an ‘abode of peace.’
‘Unless you’re gay I guess and then it’s an abode of torture,’ one Twitter user pointed out.
‘This advert makes me sick’
However, hundreds flocked to the social media site to shame TfL, calling for them to take down the advertisement.
One user said: ‘TfL should take down any and all Brunei paid advertising. Otherwise you’re complicit to LGBTQ prosecution and torture.’
‘Hi TfL you do realise that Brunei has just made homosexuality punishable by death by stoning or lashing, don’t you?’ a user asked.
‘This advert at Hammersmith Station makes me sick.’
A TfL spokesperson told Gay Star News: ‘This two-week advertising campaign will shortly be removed from our network and any proposed future campaign would be reviewed against our advertising policy.’
Background of Brunei
Rulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional interpretations of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.
In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one the same.
For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.
All a stark contrast to neighbouring Muslim-majority nations, such as Indonesia or Malaysia.
Sharia Penal Code: In three stages
Back in 2014, Bolkiah announced the Brunei governmental bloc would implement the Sharia Penal Code in three stages.
The first stage of legal reforms was no struggle to lawmakers, but its second and third stages experienced holdups.
However, the Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website officially posted plans to fast-track implementation of the SPC on 29 December 2018.