Brunei Sultan returns Oxford degree after LGBT backlash

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Bandar Seri Begawan, May 24 (IANS) The Sultan of Brunei has returned an honorary degree awarded by Oxford University after it raised concerns about the Asian nation’s strict new anti-LGBT laws.

The University said on Thursday that it opened a review “in the light of concerns about the new penal code”, the BBC reported.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said it was informed that Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah would be returning his degree after it wrote to him last month.

In April, more than 118,500 people signed a petition calling on the university to rescind the honorary law degree, which was awarded in 1993.

Oxford MP Layla Moran also wrote to the university urging it to strip him of the degree, and said it being returned was “clearly not sufficient”.

The laws introduced in April, initially made sex between men and adultery punishable by stoning to death.

But earlier this month, Brunei backtracked on enforcing the laws after a global outcry, boycotts and celebrity protests.

The Sultan has defended the decision to adopt a strict new interpretation of Islamic laws, or Sharia.

In a speech, he said although there would be a moratorium on the death penalty, the “merit” of the new laws would eventually become clear.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

–IANS

ksk/bg

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