The Sultan of Brunei, who stones gay people to death, has an honorary degree from King’s
They won’t rescind it, either
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, who recently began imposing Sharia Law in his country, still has an honorary doctorate of Law from King's College London.
From 3rd April, citizens of Brunei will be subject to new laws, by which gay sex and adultery will be punished by stoning, and thieves will have their hands amputated. To secure a conviction, crimes must be witnessed "by a group of Muslims".
When asked if the Sultan's degree, awarded in 2011, would be rescinded in light of recent backlash, a spokesperson responded saying Bolkiah had received the degree for "for his lifelong commitment to higher education." One of the Sultan's 12 children, Prince Mateen, is a King's graduate.
Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the world's richest leaders, with an estimated personal wealth of £15 billion. He has been Sultan since 1967.
Brunei, a former British colony, first announced in 2013 that they would be implementing Sharia Law. King's did not revoke his degree at this point. The new laws are now set to roll out next week, specifically targeting the gay community. Bolkiah described it as "a great success."
Homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei since colonial laws, but under Sharia Law it is now punishable by stoning or whipping, rather than a prison sentence.
The Sultan also has honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Aberdeen. The latter told The King's Tab: "The University of Aberdeen is inclusive and open to all. In light of this new information this matter will be raised as a matter of urgency with the University’s Honorary Degrees Committee."
Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, told The Guardian: "No one should face the death penalty because of who they love. Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT community and those who defend their rights. LGBT rights are human rights."
Amnesty International has urged Brunei to halt the implementation of Sharia Law, calling them "deeply flawed."
A researcher from Amnesty International added: "As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.
"To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself."
KCL LGBT+ Soc President, Georgie Spearing, encouraged students to contact those in charge of the honours process, saying: "KCL has failed our LGBT+ community once again!
"A man who has introduced a new policy of stoning gay people to death is NOT deserving of Honours from our university!"
Celebrities have also spoken out, led by George Clooney, who urged his peers to boycott the nine luxury hotels with links to Brunei. He said: "Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone."
Asked why the Sultan had been awarded the degree in the first place and whether they had any plans to rescind it, KCL told the King's Tab: "An Honorary Doctorate was bestowed upon the Sultan of Brunei in April 2011 for his lifelong commitment to higher education."