Los Angeles, CA – Celebrities, including Jay Leno and Frances Fisher, joined Eleanor Smeal, president of Feminist Majority, Mavis Leno, and a host of women's rights and LGBT leaders in a rally today across from the Beverly Hills Hotel to demand the Sultan of Brunei rescind a Taliban-like Brunei penal code, that includes the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians and the public flogging of women who have abortions.
"'Kill-a-gay' laws, or laws that allow the flogging of women for abortion, violate international law and have no place in civilized society," said Mavis Leno, who is on the board of the Feminist Majority.
"The United Nations must condemn the government of Brunei's plans and explore additional options, including sanctions, if Brunei fails to rescind this decree," said Eleanor Smeal.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed deep concern about the new penal code and stated that such draconian punishments would contravene international law and international human rights.
FMF launched a massive petition drive and social media campaign calling on the government of Brunei to immediately rescind the new code and asking the United Nations to take action if these laws go into effect as planned. www.feminist.org and #StopTheSultan
The new penal code is set to be implemented in three phases over three years. The first phase, beginning May 1, 2014, will include fines and prison sentences. The second phase includes corporal punishment such as amputations and flogging women who have abortions. The stoning to death of gay men and lesbians is slated for the third phase.
Brunei is an industrialized, petroleum and natural gas country in Southeast Asia. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1984. The Brunei Investment Agency owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Bel-Air Hotel, and other Dorchester Collection Properties. The Agency is managed by the Brunei Ministry of Finance which is controlled by the Sultan.