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Protests turn to Royal Brunei Airlines

Tanutam Thawan



PHOTO: Paddle Your Own Kanoo

Protests over Brunei introducing draconian new laws with brutal punishments for gay sex, adultery and theft are now being aimed at the nationally-owned Royal Brunei Airlines.

Virgin Australia Airlines has already confirmed it has cancelled its staff travel deal with the national carrier over the new anti-gay laws.

Royal Brunei Airlines also have code-share agreements with many airlines including (to name just a few), Thai Airways, QANTAS, Singapore Airlines, Bangkok Always and British Airways. Some of these airlines are said to be considering the future of their code-share agreements.

Full Shariah law took effect in Brunei this week although a move to more brutal punishments has been ramping up since 2013.

The new laws will apply to Muslims, non-Muslims and foreigners, even when on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels, according to travel advisory issued by the Australian government. The Australian department of foreign affairs is warning tourists that some offences may result in a penalty of execution by stoning.

Meanwhile a Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby in the Australian state of Victoria is calling on the Australian government to ensure the safety of Australians is protected. The Victorian lobby group says the travel warning does not go far enough to protect the rights of LGBTIQ Australians.

They’ve gone so far as calling on Melbourne Airport to withdraw permission for Brunei Airlines to land, while demanding that Flight Centre and STA Travel immediately stop selling the airline’s tickets.

Virgin Australia, in an email to staff, says the decision was made “given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced” for a normal lifestyle that is legal and acceptable in many countries, including Australia.

Large Australian travel franchise Flight Centre responded saying the company “vehemently opposes” the application of Shariah law in Brunei.

While travel consumers, and Hollywood and music celebrities, may lead the charge against human rights violations, the global travel industry is doing what it does best; siting on the fence.

The Thaiger would urge flyers to consider choosing other airlines in light of the draconian laws introduced in the Sultanate of Brunei this week.


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