The LGBT Leader Who Refuses To Boycott The Sultan Of Brunei’s Death Sentence For Gays

Ruth-Hunt1Last month the Sultan of Brunei enacted a penal code reform that includes the stoning to death of homosexuals (along with those who rob, commit sodomy, insult the Koran or declare oneself to be a prophet), leading to a boycott of the Sultan’s international luxury hotel group Dorchester Collection.

This included some Hollywood outcry over the Beverly Hills Hotel, the iconic pink West L.A. institution. Ellen Degeneres, Jay Leno, Kim Kardashian, Stephen Fry, Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne are among those who’ve leant their voices to cry foul and pledge to spend their money elsewhere.

But acting Chief Executive of leading U.K.-based lesbian, gay and bisexual equality organization Stonewall Ruth Hunt sees things differently, and she’s taking a fair amount of flack for her opinions.

“At Stonewall we share the anger and fury of those calling for a boycott but we won’t be joining them. We are committed to achieving equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people – both here in Great Britain and abroad. We’re renowned for our pragmatism and our belief that talking is usually more effective than protests – however satisfying protests may be, in the short term they’re often most rewarding to the individuals taking part. We only implement actions that we can calculate will have an impact.”

Pragmatic? Perhaps. Inspiring? Definitely not.

Especially given Hunt’s next line of logic — that a boycott actually harms gay people in Brunei:

“I do, however, fear that the boycott could do very real harm to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei. By turning the issue into a battle between gay people and the Sultan – which it isn’t, it affects everyone in Brunei, not just gay people – we limit the opportunity for dialogue and put the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people of Brunei at far greater risk. A group of people, I hasten to add, who’ve yet to publically call for a boycott.”

We’re not sure making excuses is exactly the best way to spark conversation, either. We’re all for calculating the best plan of action, but doing nothing doesn’t seem quite right either.

H/t: Pink News

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #sultanofbrunei#politics #gayagenda #random stories and more


  • Stefano

    It is exactly the same logique for the Olympics at Sotchi. Probably she or someone she knows have monetary interest in Brunei.

  • Lvng1tor

    @Stefano: That was my first thought also. It’s that same logic GOProud employees…Let’s do nothing that may make it harder for us to have our oppressors maybe one day lick the scraps from their feast.

    All rights are really won by doing nothing against those who seek to oppress. Just lightly knock on their door and ask in a low polite submissive voice to please let us in. But only ask once otherwise they will think we are rude and never let us in…Maybe a fruit basket in advance….NOT

  • Stefano

    @Lvng1tor : very funny ! “Maybe a fruit basket in advance”… Or J. Weirdo and his ‘husband with a buch of flowers and a card written : “From Russia with Love!” ?

  • jcrascal

    While that is a lovely idea, Ruth, there are just a few problems with your logic system as I see it, not the least of which is, under Sharia law in effect, members of the LGBT community “publicly calling for a boycott” would be the equivalent of hanging huge bull’s eyes around their own necks, carrying signs that say “Here I Am, Stone Me Now!”

    A more realistic question would be, “What does the LGBT culture of Brunei WANT of us?” – if indeed such a culture exists. In our short-sighted Western way, we assume that there is some sort of equivalent community within theirs comparable to ours, which is not necessarily the case.

    Meanwhile, sticking it to the sultan and his bank account works for me, though I realize it hurts the local employees at the hotels. But what better way to get him to divest himself of losing investments? I cannot think of a thing. And I cannot imagine that trickle-down economics are in effect in Brunei anymore than elsewhere. Explain to me exactly HOW these boycotts negatively impact the citizens of Brunei?

  • Lvng1tor

    @Stefano: “With Love…but not that kind of Love. Just the Love of a man riding a throbbing stallion bareback and shirtless kind of macho Love….NoH0M0”

  • fagburn

    ‘We’re all for calculating the best plan of action, but doing nothing doesn’t seem quite right either.’

    First, do no harm.

  • ouragannyc

    It is the same logic indeed.
    Perhaps she’s trying to be “original”, but dialogue re LGBT won’t go anywhere in Sharialand.

  • DarkZephyr

    @fagburn: Is that your message to the Sultan? Or are you fine with the death penalty for gays?

  • Mezaien

    To the government of Israel, please exterminate all Muslims, and Christian in your country.

  • Daniel-Reader

    The only discussion to be had is the punishment for governments that commit genocide against LGBTA people, since the global LGBTA community can enforce human rights by punishing government officials who violate them. Of course a minority is not speaking out inside a country that plans to murder them, which is why all of us outside the country have to ensure that government is no longer recognized by the LGBTA community and is punished for genocide.

  • Fang

    This is a good read for anyone interested in learning more about Brunei, LGBTs and women in Brunei and Sharia Law:

    “It’s clear that the Human Rights Campaign and other U.S. gay activists still haven’t learned the importance of alliances, a blindness doubly alarming when projected onto an international scale. The current fetish for fast results and clicktivism only feeds into this. A quick boycott threat might bring down a Firefox CEO in a few days, but political change across continents takes patience and persistence and hard work, not hashtags.”

    The article argues that Brunei’s Sharia isn’t an anti-gay law per se and that US gay organizations’ characterization of Sharia as such is misguided. The more imminent impact of the laws will be felt by women and that US gay organizations leading boycotts and protests are a trendy and superficial way to enact change.

    Lots of good points!

  • fagburn

    @Fang: Hey dude!

    Don’t try and bring rational argument about the effectiveness of LGBT campaigning into this.

    Knee-jerk celebactivist self-publicity stunts and pointless consumer boycotts rool!


  • fagburn

    @Daniel-Reader: Genocide?

    Yeah, that’s happening.

    Why not go to Belsen and pee on it?

  • fagburn

    @DarkZephyr The point is how you might actually achieve change anywhere.

    Rather than ill-thought out knee-jerk feel-good posturing.

    Here, I don’t think the Sultan of Brunei gives a felch about a Jay Leno photo-op.

    Just a thought…

  • fagburn

    @Mezaien: Yes, this was a real post – and not made-up by some Michael Lucas fan.

    No sirree!

  • Lvng1tor

    @Fang: I read the article and can even agree to it on the surface. However, There is no harm in letting the public know and decide for themselves whether or not they want to spend their money at establishments owned by this man. While, “Sharia isn’t an anti-gay law per se…” it does include the ability to stone gays and has been used to do so. Are you saying that just because right now it’s a celebrity feeding frenzy for press that we shouldn’t care? Or, that since it’s more likely used to be used against women that gays should care less? I’m really asking you these questions. Where is the proof of harm in knowledge and letting people decide to support or not support? Sure right now it’s a lot about the bandwagon but it is getting the world to pay attn. Twitter is a valuable communication tool. Just because jagwads use it to self promote you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Doing nothing is certainly not going to get things done. What’s your option/opinion or do we do nothing and stay uninformed cause Jay Leno wants press?

  • Lvng1tor

    @Fang: Actually I reread it and he’s full of it.

  • Cam

    So again,

    There are MULTIPLE organizations and people supporting this, but instead Queerty scours the globe to find somebody outside of the U.S. to comment against the boycott of the American Hotel.

    Once again why does Queerty seem to run a lot of articles against gay rights?

    And now you can delete my post as you did to the multiple posts from multiple people pointing out the same thing in the Harvey Firestein post.

  • michael mellor

    Why is a woman in charge of a gay rights organization? Females generally don’t understand the special predicaments of men who are homosexuals. She should be kicked out.

  • DickieJohnson

    @Mezaien: Do you have the tiresome comment set on “automatic reply”? Please, come up with something else, or totally S.T.F.U., to put it in your lingo.

  • Billy Budd

    She is wrong and has either been corrupted or is just an idiot.

  • BigWoody

    I don’t believe the boycott of the Sultan’s hotel chain is meant to harm him financially; it’s to make people aware of what is happening in Brunei. Would we have known about this issue without the boycott?

    Brunei gained its independence from Great Britain in 1984.
    The Sultan pays big bucks to keep a British military base with 1,000 men close to its oil fields.
    Brunei has had a long close history with the US Department of Defense and the CIA.
    The Sultanate is thought of as a corrupt puppet regime of the west by locals.

    Brunei is the fifth richest country in the world based on its oil and gas industry.
    Brunei Shell Petroleum (a monopoly) is a joint venture formed in 1922 with Royal Dutch Shell.
    Shell is the largest company in the world in terms of revenue.
    Shell has a high score of 85 out of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
    Shell’s two largest shareholders are; Capital Research Global Investors, headquartered in Los Angeles; and BlackRock, based in New York City (whose political contributions favor democrats).
    Maybe we should be pressuring others in addition to the Sultan’s hotel chain.

    I find it disturbing that the US, Great Britain, Royal Dutch Shell, etc. have blinders on regarding Brunei. It seems as though they were hoping that this would become a non-issue. Maybe they thought no one would care about that little country on the other side of the world. What we should be aware of is the possibility of radical Muslim factors pushing for sharia law within Brunei’s moderate neighbors of Indonesia and Malaysia.

  • Rangerboy

    Very naive…..feed the wolf the lamb, hoping it won’t attack the flock…..

  • Stefano

    For intellectual masturbators who think that women rights are getting better and that LGBT organisations should learn from women movements, because, they have vastly richer histories of working consultatively and building coalitions across borders, should read this :

    It reminds me a cote from Michel Audiard :
    « Deux intellectuels assis vont moins loin qu’une brute qui marche. »

  • Stefano

    Sorry …you should read : For masturbating intellectuels…

  • Stefano

    Sorry again…For masturbating intellectuals… And …a quote (not a cote). :-). Ah maudit clavier français.

  • derp

    “Talking” is something that two at least somewhat reasonable parties can do when there’s even an iota of a chance that some sort of progress will be made.

    That’s not the case here. This extremist means to murder our people and anybody accused of being gay. That’s evil and there is no reasoning with evil.

    If all we can do, in the short term at least, is send a message with our money, that’s what needs to be done. The Sultan isn’t listening to us; he doesn’t care about us; we are specks of dust to him.

    A boycott may not grab his attention, but it’s got a better shot than just “talking” It also makes the LGBT community and our allies around the world aware of this awful situation.

  • jar

    Neville Chamberlain supports Ruth Hunt.

    This is a problem with a lot of organizations that claim to promote our rights. They are filled with over-privileged people working the non-profit and NGO sector for their comfortable existences. They are not activists, but arrivistes in search of a public profile and personal comfort.

  • sejjo

    @Mezaien: To whoever controls the weather (I’m looking at you God!), please strike this guy with lightning!

  • toberlin

    know your enemy…
    I think there is a foreign policy tendency that the U.S. somtimes is doing too much and think too little and European Countries sometimes do too little and think too much.
    The Question is how to support the people in Brunei best?Easy Question ,difficulut answer.And in my opinion it is good and important to have several doors open.Just because Stonewall strikes another way does not mean the way of U.S people is totally wrong.And Stonewall is not the enemy.Like the political concerns in relation to the Iraq war were not anti-American.Because I share some expert opinon that the Sultan of Brunei in the face of dwindling resources tries to stabilize its power-position for the next generation.And I think when it comes to make an”example” people who are LGBT could be affected at first.I have neither the English nor the time to explain the whole political system of Brunei( how the Sultan keeps people quiet) or why muslim countries often have less democratic understanding ( NO “Age of Enlightenment”= Scharia is often accepted as legal basis)etc.,but I am pretty sure that Stonewall is not the ENEMY.

  • Cam


    The funny thing, what happens after these rulers try to institute Sharia law to appease the religious clerics? Those clerics turn on them. Look at the problems that Saudi Arabia is having.

    The Sultan is trying to hold the tiger by the tail and is being foolish.

  • toberlin

    :)I think we both know what happens when RELIGION is used as LEGAL BASIS.Things and Countries get out of Control.

  • toberlin

    The Freedom of Religion is a basis of Democracy.But the separation of church and state as well.

  • nabilmubarak

    Are you tired seeking Loan to finance your Business, has Bank stress be upon you all this years and you cannot get Loan to start up your Business, or are you financially embarrassed that you cannot pay up your Debt and Bills, Do you think of getting a Loan ? Are you seriously in need of an urgent loan? while don’t you hurry now and Grab your Guaranteed and Secured Loan today at Nabil Al-Mubarak, we give out the best service ever to all our customer, and will are working towards and beyond our customers reach and expectation, as we Render out all kinds of Loans. to Loan seekers, Individuals, Cooperate Organization’s, Companies, and so on . Contact us At :


    First Name: ……………………..
    Last Name: ………………………..
    Contact Address: . …………….
    State ……………………………….
    Gender: ……………………………
    Amount Needed: ……………….
    Loan Terms & Duration:……….
    Telephone: …………………………

    Contact us At :

Comments are closed.