NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Sultan of Brunei's honour revoked by University of Aberdeen over anti-LGBT laws

Sultan Hassanal, 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah received the honour back in 1995

An honorary degree awarded by the University of Aberdeen to the Sultan of Brunei has been revoked after his country made gay sex an offence punishable by death.

The strict new Islamic laws came into force earlier this month.

The university initially said Hassanal Bolkiah's 1995 honour was under review, and it was then recommended the award be revoked.

The university said the honorary degree had now been revoked.

University of Aberdeen Principal George Boyne said: "There has been an international controversy since the Sultan of Brunei, in his role as Head of State, introduced severely punitive anti-LGBT laws.

"The honorary degree has been revoked following a vote by Senate, our academic body, which approved a recommendation from our Honorary Degrees Committee.

"While it is deeply regrettable to be in this position, which is unprecedented for the University of Aberdeen, I fully support the decision."

He added: "The University of Aberdeen is proud of our foundational purpose of being open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others. The introduction by the Sultan of the new Penal Code is contrary to our strong commitment to the value of diversity and inclusion."

Image copyright University of Aberdeen

He explained the Sultan's award was at a time when the university had operated a successful exchange programme with its counterpart in Brunei, and when the Sultan had encouraged links between Brunei and Aberdeen.

The vote was not unanimous, but an overwhelming majority were said to have voted for the honour to be revoked.

'No place'

University of Aberdeen rector Maggie Chapman, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, previously told BBC Scotland: "We really, really have to take a stand on this, and stand in solidarity."

Tweeting after the news it had been revoked, she wrote: "Delighted that @aberdeenuni has rescinded the Sultan of Brunei's Honorary Degree. No place for homophobia. No place for bigotry."

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Brunei, a nation state on the island of Borneo, is ruled by Sultan Hassanal and has grown rich on oil and gas exports.

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