Our founder calls on Commonwealth to do more about Brunei LGBT laws

Our founder Darren Burn called on the Commonwealth to do more to ensure Brunei removes its homophobic laws

It’s important that we use our visibility as an LGBT friendly travel business to speak up about issues that impact and affect the community, no matter where they are.

When I was asked by the BBC to speak about the latest laws installed by Brunei that can see gay men stoned to death and lesbian women imprisoned simply because of who they love, it was an easy decision.

Far too often LGBT rights are not given the same coverage as other fundamental human rights. Whilst I welcome the news that the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has asked Brunei to revoke the death penalty, I do not believe it goes far enough.

Baroness Patricia Scotland should go one step further and begin a process that removes Brunei from the Commonwealth entirely. Other countries (Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe) have been removed in the past and so there is absolutely a precedent for doing this – albeit not with LGBT rights.

The Commonwealth was instrumental in helping stop apartheid in South Africa, yet it still doesn’t do enough to promote the fundamental rights of LGBT individuals globally. We can no longer stand by and let other countries kill their citizens in cold blood. Whether that’s in a Commonwealth country or not.

We also know it’s never as simple as saying “let’s boycott that destination”. At OutOfOffice.com, we are proud that we are making countries sit up and listen. We’ve actively engaged a number of tourist boards on how to reach the LGBT traveller, but we always ensure we are pushing for our ultimate goal – equal laws. In places like the Maldives, it’s still illegal to be gay but we work with resorts that are welcoming, that have LGBT managers and that offer honeymoon benefits to same-sex couples. We fundamentally believe that enabling safe travel to these destinations will help break down barriers, change opinions and effect change. But we realise that not everyone agrees with that and so in those instances we offer impartial advice on alternative and more welcoming destinations. A good example is French Polynesia where many of our clients who don’t wish to travel to the Maldives can travel without fear – same-sex marriage is legal there.

There are some charities out there doing good work to help make a difference. The Kaleidoscope Trust supports LGBT activists around the world and wants to ensure that LGBT citizens are treated equally globally. As we grow as a business, it’s a core part of our mission to ensure we support charities trying to make an impact.

It’s time that LGBT rights were taken as seriously as other discrimination issues and here at OutOfOffice.com, we’re adamant that we’ll continue champion people’s ability to travel as freely as possible.

Watch my full interview below.

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