A rally this Saturday (13 April – 1.00pm) will target a Brisbane hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei, the leader of the South-East Asian nation which has introduced the death penalty for homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy and apostasy.
The Royal on the Park Hotel Rally in the City Botanic Gardens, across the street from the hotel at 152 Alice Street, will be the first large-scale rally in Australia to oppose the sultanate’s draconian new laws.
High-profile speakers from across the political spectrum and many protestors are expected to attend the event, designed to put pressure on the Sultan’s business interests and help force a back down from the 72-year-old ruler, Hassanal Bokliah.
The harsh laws, enacted in Brunei last Wednesday, have drawn condemnation from across the globe, and sparked a boycott of the Sultan’s elite Dorchester Collection hotels overseas, led by celebrities George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres.
One of the organisers of the Brisbane rally, Bill Rutkin OAM, said it was vital for Australians to do all they could to stop the slaughter of innocent people. “Brunei is a country in our region, and a member of the Commonwealth, so it’s entirely appropriate that we take action,” said Mr Rutkin.
“Arguably, the average Australian can’t do much about this issue – but what we can do, we should do. Boycotting this hotel and having a protest is something we can do. The corrupt regime in Brunei is perverting the holiness and the sanctity of religion for their own vile political purposes. We must do all we can to stop it.”
The national spokesperson for the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Shelley Argent OAM, said the situation in Brunei represented a human rights emergency in our region.
“At long last, LGBTI Australians enjoy many of the rights taken for granted by others, including marriage equality – but on Australia’s doorstep, people can now be murdered by their government simply for being gay, or for adultery, blasphemy or apostasy,” she said. “We owe it to our neighbours in Brunei to stand up for their rights.”
“I hope Australians from all walks of life – gay, straight and otherwise – support this boycott and the protests against the Sultan of Brunei’s Australian business interests,” added Ms Argent, who will speak at the rally.
Renowned LGBTI activist Rodney Croome AM also threw his weight behind the Brisbane event. “I urge everyone who believes in human rights and equality to rally against the Sultan of Brunei and the barbaric new laws he has imposed on his country,” said Mr Croome, spokesperson for just.equal.
“We need to send a message to the Sultan that he is an international pariah no better than ISIS – and we need to send a message to the Federal Government to cut ties with Brunei and vote it out of the Commonwealth until it reforms its laws,” he said.
For more information, visit the Rally’s Facebook event page: www.facebook.com for details.
Image: Royal on the Park Brisbane (sourced)