Attorney General Cancels Trip To Brunei-Owned Hotel Amid Controversy Over Anti-Gay Laws

The decision comes after Senator Fintan Warfield wrote to the Taoiseach yesterday, asking that the Attorney General cancel his visit to the London hotel.

Attorney General Séamus Woulfe
Image: Nick Bradshaw

Attorney General Séamus Woulfe has decided to postpone his induction into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a prestigious legal academy, due to the ceremony being held in London’s Dorchester Hotel – a property owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who has recently made gay sex punishable with death by stoning in his country.

The Dorchester is part of a chain of nine luxury hotels, the Dorchester Collection, owned by the Sultan through the Brunei Investment Agency. With figures including Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland condemning Brunei’s new sharia penal code as a violation of international human rights standards, the chain has faced a boycott and protests since the introduction of the new laws last week.

According to a report by the Irish Times, it is understood that the Attorney General consulted the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier this week on his attendance at the induction ceremony, and decided yesterday to postpone his induction.

“In January 2018 the Attorney General had the great honour to be nominated for fellowship of a body known as The International Academy of Trial Lawyers,” a government statement says. “The academy is a prestigious body of trial lawyers, with the majority of fellows from the United States, but with a limited number of fellows from over 30 countries throughout the world.

“A small number of Irish barristers have been inducted as fellows of the academy. The Attorney General’s trip has been postponed and his formal induction will occur at a time and place yet to be determined.”

The news comes after Senator Fintan Warfield, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on LGBT+ rights, wrote to the Taoiseach yesterday expressing his opposition to Woulfe’s attendance at the event.

“The Sultan of Brunei has absolute control in the country,” Warfield wrote, “and has recently announced that barbaric new capital punishment laws will be introduced, including death by stoning or flogging of LGBT people.” Highlighting the ongoing boycott of the Dorchester Hotel, he wrote that “page 144 of the Programme for Government commits to protecting and promoting human rights.”

“Sinn Féin welcome the news that the Attorney General will not attend the event at the Dorchester Hotel,” he says of Woulfe’s decision not to attend. “The Sultan of Brunei should know that Ireland rejects homophobia and sends its solidarity to oppressed people under his absolute rule.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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