Virgin Australia ends deal with Royal Brunei Airlines after country introduces anti-LGBT+ laws

The move follows celebrities’ call to boycott Brunei-owned hotels

Helen Coffey
Thursday 04 April 2019 10:36
LGBT+ people to be stoned or whipped to death in Brunei under new sex law

Virgin Australia has ended a deal with Brunei’s national carrier in response to the country’s introduction of “inhumane” anti-LGBT+ laws.

The airline terminated its Staff Leisure Travel agreement with Royal Brunei, which allowed Virgin staff to book discounted tickets on Royal Brunei flights for leisure travel.

The move was confirmed in an email sent to employees explaining the new Sharia code introduced by Brunei.

The tiny island nation, bordered by Malaysia and the South China Sea, adopted the laws on Wednesday 3 April. They include the death penalty by stoning for adultery and those engaging in same-sex intercourse.

These rules apply to Muslims, non-Muslims and foreigners “even when transiting on Brunei-registered aircraft and vessels”, Virgin Australia wrote in the email, reports AFP.

“Given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia, the myID (staff travel) agreement between Virgin Australia and Royal Brunei has now been terminated effective immediately.”

A separate interline ticketing agreement that allows Royal Brunei to sell seats on Virgin Australia flights has not been changed.

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has called on Canberra to ensure the safety of Australians is protected.

“The penal code applies to all those who board a Brunei-registered aircraft even when in Australia,” the VGLRL said.

“(It) will allow for inhumane and cruel punishments for queer people, such as death by stoning for consensual acts between same-sex adults.”

Virgin Australia’s decision follows TfL’s announcement that it is pulling adverts promoting Brunei as a tourist destination from the Transport for London (TfL) network. The adverts promoted Brunei and its government-owned airline under the country’s tourism slogan an “abode of peace”.

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“The advertisement was considered compliant with our advertising policy when it was submitted and accepted,“ said a TfL spokesperson.

”However, given recent information that has come to light, it is clear that this is an issue of great public sensitivity and controversy so the advert will be removed from our network.”

Celebrities have also been vocal in their condemnation of Brunei, with Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney both calling for a boycott of the luxury hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

These include the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and Le Meurice in Paris.

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