Swiss travel company STA Travel, who claim to be the largest in the world for young people, have severed ties with Royal Brunei Airlines.
In a statement released today (5 April) the company said they will stop selling flights via the Brunei government-owned airline.
STA Travel join fellow airline Virgin Australia in boycotting Brunei over their recent implementation of the Shariah penal code, which includes the death penalty for gay sex.
Last month, Gay Star News broke the news that Brunei was quietly rushing to implement the Sharia Penal Code.
What did they say?
‘We’re proud of our open and diverse culture and we expect our partners to demonstrate the same.
‘We do not support in any way the laws being introduced in Brunei (including on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels).
‘Because of this we have stopped selling Royal Brunei Airlines flights.
‘Anybody who bought Royal Brunei Airlines tickets through STA Travel and who no longer wants to use them can claim a refund, and we will help those customers to make alternative travel arrangements.
‘We’ve taken this stance to add our voice to the calls on Brunei to reverse this change in the law and in support of LGBTQI people everywhere.’
Why should we boycott Brunei?
Back in 2014, the Sultan of Brunei – the nation’s leader – announced the Brunei governmental bloc would implement the Sharia Penal Code onto citizens.
The Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website officially posted plans to fast-track implementation of the SPC on 29 December 2018. It would legalize stoning and amputation as punishment for several crimes.
Brunei itself – a tiny, oil-rich patch of the island of Borneo – has only 430,000 people living there.
Yet, this in no way stopped the immense and continuing condemnation of their government.
While the UN denounced the laws as ‘inhuman’ and ‘draconian.’
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.
Things have been this way since 1962, when a left-leaning political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, won local elections.
But the Sultan refused to recognize this, and the party staged a failed coup. As a result, Brunei has been under emergency rule, granting the Sultan full executive decision-making power.