Following the positive news in the last 48 hours that the Sultan of Brunei intends to suspend the death penalty for those found guilty of adultery or gay sex, we are suspending our request for a review of the Liquor Licenses held by The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane.
As has been widely reported, the introduction of the law known as the Syariah Penal Code Order, brought international condemnation and is in defiance of United Nations treaties signed by Brunei. A campaign to boycott venues controlled by Brunei, including The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in West End Ward, drew support from George Clooney, Sir Elton John and Stephen Fry and several large events scheduled to be held at The Dorchester were canceled or moved location.
Our petition was intended as a specific local action to highlight the issue and help build pressure for change, and came in response to requests from residents for a proportionate measure. The announcement accompanying the suspension of punishments acknowledged that international pressure, such as ours, played a part in the Sultan’s decision. The campaign attracted strong media interest from Sky News and The Evening Standard, among others, and was supported across the political spectrum.
We recognise that a suspension of the corporal punishments for the alleged crimes is not the full repeal of the law that many campaigners - including ourselves - would like to see. However, it is a positive step that removes some of the lines of difference existing between the position of Brunei and countries with similar legislation where gay sex and other acts remain crimes. Brunei was a focus for international action because it appeared to be intent on increasing legal restraints and corresponding punishments just as others are relaxing or repealing them. It is our hope that this latest development is a first step for them on a similar path and should be recognised.
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and have helped to promote the campaign over the last few weeks and while we are cautiously optimistic over the issues raised in Brunei, we will continue to keep our position under review.