Sultan of Brunei hands back his honorary degree

The Sultan of Brunei has handed back an honorary degree after pressure from Oxford University regarding his country’s new anti-LGBT laws.

The new laws, introduced in April worsened the already strict punishments against homosexuality in Brunei. Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei and punishable by long prison sentences of up to 10 years. One of the new sharia laws made sexual intercourse between men punishable by stoning to death.

A petition calling the university to rescind Sultan of Brunei’s honorary law degree had garnered more than 118,500 signatures.

Oxford has said it will review the Sultan of Brunei’s honorary degree after the international outcry against his country’s laws intensified.

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

The University told The Oxford Student: In the light of concerns about the new Penal Code in Brunei, the University opened a review of the decision to award an honorary degree to His Majesty The Sultan of Brunei. 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.”

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

She said: “Oxford University now has a chance to redeem itself and move past being tied to such gross violations of human rights. I think it is best the university should undertake a thorough review of their honorary degree system to ensure a scandal like this doesn’t happen again.”

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