Sultan of Brunei returns Oxford degree after backlash to anti-gay laws | World News

The sultan of Brunei has returned an honorary degree awarded to him by Oxford University following a backlash to his proposal of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.

Nearly 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on the university to rescind the honorary law degree awarded to Hassanal Bolkiah in 1993.

Oxford University said on Thursday that the sultan had decided to hand back the degree earlier this month, while the decision to award it was under review.

A spokesman said: “As part of the review process, the university wrote to notify the sultan on 26 April 2019, asking for his views by 7 June 2019.

“Through a letter dated 6 May 2019, the sultan replied with his decision to return the degree.”

George Clooney encouraged people to boycott hotels owned by the sultan

Celebrities George Clooney and Sir Elton John were among those who had spoken against Brunei’s interpretation of Islamic laws, which would have seen sodomy, adultery and rape punishable by death – including by stoning.

A global outcry included condemnation from the United Nations and several companies banned staff using hotels owned by the sultan. Some travel companies also stopped promoting Brunei to tourists.

The sultan – the world’s second-longest reigning monarch – has since stepped back slightly to say the death penalty will not be imposed.

Oil-rich Brunei is a former British protectorate with a population of about 400,000. It sits between two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.

It was the first country in the region to adopt the criminal component of sharia at a national level in 2014.

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