The London Evening Standard newspaper is facing pressure to cancel an event planned at the Brunei-owned Dorchester Hotel, following backlash against the country’s anti-LGBT laws.
Brunei installed a new penal code on 3 April, which allows for the punishment of gay sex with stoning to death.
The newspaper had planned its annual New Homes awards at the Dorchester hotel for 17 May, but the venue has since been the subject of protest by LGBT rights groups.
In a letter to the European Parliament, Brunei’s mission to the EU defended the new law by saying: “The criminalisation of adultery and sodomy is to safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage to individual Muslims, particularly women.”
On the subject of whipping as a punishment, the letter added: “The offender must be clothed, whipping must be with moderate force without lifting his hand over his head, shall not result in the laceration of the skin nor the breaking of bones, and shall not be inflicted on the face, head, stomach, chest or private parts.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, speaking to The Guardian, said: “I would be very disappointed to see the Evening Standard – a paper that rightly celebrates the diversity and tolerance of our capital city – go ahead with this planned event.
“I hope they will instead join the many other individuals, companies and organisations who have recently boycotted the Dorchester, and helped send a message to the sultan of Brunei that his hatred is not welcome here.”