LGBT activists criticise George Clooney for calling Brunei boycott a 'warning shot' to Malaysia, Indonesia

LGBT activists criticise George Clooney for calling Brunei boycott a 'warning shot' to Malaysia, Indonesia
LGBT activists in Southeast Asia have criticised recent remarks by George Clooney which called the boycott of Brunei a 'warning shot' to neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.
2 min read
George Clooney said the Brunei boycott was a 'warning shot' for Malaysia and Indonesia [Getty]

US actor George Clooney has been the subject of criticism by LGBT activists after he said that a boycott of Brunei-owned businesses should be seen as a "warning shot" to neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Oscar-winning actor said that the economic pressure placed on Brunei following its introduction of anti-gay laws should prevent other Southeast Asian nations from doing the same.

Earlier this year, Clooney joined other celebrities, including Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres, in vocally opposing Brunei's plans to roll out a strict Sharia penal code.

Included in the new laws were capital and corporal punishments for a number of crimes, including stoning to death for gay sex.

Brunei backtracked last and said that it would maintain its moratorium on the death penalty.

"It's not fixed yet... but it's a huge step forward after this giant leap backwards," Clooney said last Friday while on US talkshow Ellen.

"It sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia - who are also considering these laws - that the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to say 'don't even get into that business'."

Local activists have criticised Clooney's comments as lacking understanding of the region.

"Malaysia and Indonesia are larger entities and have some democratic processes that although not perfect, they work," Dede Oetomo, founder of Indonesian LGBT rights group Gaya Nusantara, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Pressure from within is more possible in both countries, though it is frustratingly slow and protracted."

In neighbouring Malaysia, LGBT activist Numan Afifi also criticised Clooney's remarks.

"I call on George Clooney and Hollywood to listen and work together with local activists and human rights defenders on the ground," Afifi told Thomson Reuters.

"Local activists have been putting their lives at risk on the ground working, for years... His statement, while well-meaning, might also be counterproductive for our case."