Petition urging KCL to revoke Brunei Sultan’s degree passes 1,500 signatures

His laws to stone gay people to death are in effect as of today


King's LGBTQ+ Staff Network have set up a change.org petition to revoke the degree KCL awarded the Sultan of Brunei in 2011. At the time of writing, the petition has 1,784 signatures.

The Network have also written an open letter to the College, urging them to revoke the Sultan's honorary doctorate in Law, claiming: "The College's silence undermines our institution's core values."

The Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, announced this week he would be implementing laws in his country by which homosexuality and adultery would be punished by stoning to death, and convicted thieves would be punished by having their hands amputated.

The letter highlights how rapidly the University of Aberdeen, who also awarded the Sultan an honorary degree, has stated publicly their intention to urgently review the matter. The letter acknowledges that Principal Ed Byrne has raised "urgent concerns" with KCL's honorary degrees committee, but maintains: "the College's silence undermines our institution's core values."

A King's spokesperson responded to the letter over Twitter, saying: "We wanted to let you know that we’re taking the comments and concerns outlined in your letter very seriously.

"We are proud of our diverse and inclusive community here at King's.

"President and Principal Ed Byrne shares your concerns, and given these developments he has asked the university's Fellowships and Honorary Degrees Committee to urgently review the award."

The Sultan is one of the world’s richest leaders, boasting a personal wealth estimated at £15 million. He has been Sultan since 1967, and set up two universities in Brunei: The University of Brunei Darussalam and Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University. He is the Chancellor of both.

Asked by The King's Tab whether the College was planning on rescinding the degree, a spokesperson said: "An Honorary Doctorate was bestowed upon the Sultan of Brunei in April 2011 for his lifelong commitment to higher education."

The Centre for Defence Studies, part of KCL’s War studies department, and runs courses in Brunei, amongst other places. One of the Sultan's sons studied International Relations at King's. He also later completed a Master's at SOAS, home to a Brunei gallery SOAS students are petitioning to have renamed.

The Sultan also has honorary degrees from Oxford and Aberdeen. The University of Aberdeen 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."

Brunei has links to nine luxury hotels. Celebrities (mainly led by George Clooney) are publicly boycotting those hotels and urging others to do the same.

If you are a KCL student who feels strongly about this issue and you want your voice heard, DM The King's Tab Instagram.