Nautilus International added its voice to the global condemnation of laws in the Kingdom of Brunei that punish homosexual sex with death by stoning.
A new penal code introduced in the Kingdom targets LGBT+ people with the death penalty. It is the latest phase of brutal new laws introduced since 2014 that include severe punishments for adultery and theft. The code was instituted in December with no public announcement and only came to international attention in March.
Nautilus International organiser Danny McGowan said: ‘Nautilus was proud to support the motion at ITF Congress in 2018 defending the rights of LGBT+ maritime professionals and other transport workers.
‘It is worrying to see that international developments such as this are taking place when so much progress has been made in recent years for LGBT+ diversity and inclusion. In a global industry such as ours, seafarers may very easily find themselves vulnerable to discrimination or even the death penalty in some of their ports of call.’
Mr McGowan said the Union would continue to attend Pride in London (see below) and to develop its work for LGBT+ members – and all groups vulnerable to discrimination. ‘It is important for everyone to know about our Nautilus 24/7 emergency service, which is available for all members to contact should they be faced with an issue that requires immediate assistance,’ he added.
Stephen Cotton, chair of the Council of Global Unions (CGU) and ITF general secretary, called on the government of Brunei to stop the implementation of this cruel and inhuman new law.
‘Moreover, it is time for Brunei to go further and end all laws criminalising LGBT+ people and show that it is a country that upholds human rights and celebrates diversity, rather than outlaw it,’ he said.
‘Everybody, whatever their sexuality or gender or race, has the right to be who they are free of fear and persecution; this is basic human rights. The trade union movement has a proud history of standing up for the most persecuted communities, and we will continue to do this for as long as we have to.’
Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary and secretary of the CGU, said: ‘There must be no place in the modern word for medieval laws like these’.
Following an international outcry, including calls to boycott the Sultan of Brunei's business interests, the Sultan has said that the death penalty will not be enforced. The laws have not been repealed, however, and there is reason to fear the continued and growing legitimisation of discrimination against the country's LGBT+ community.
Sign up for Pride
Danny McGowan, Nautilus international officer, writes about the union's presence at Pride in London and invites members to join the parade:
'Nautilus staff and members are gearing up for our annual attendance at Pride in London, taking place this year on Saturday 6 July.
'Building on our attendance over the last three years, we hope to make 2019 the biggest year yet – with more members, employers and seafarers’ organisations attending with the Union than ever, together showing that careers in maritime are open to everyone.
'Despite some people believing that equality has been achieved, recent events in the UK and globally have shown that LGBT+ men and women still face discrimination, debate over their legitimacy as human beings and sometimes even criminalisation and death penalties.
'With this in mind, it’s important for the Union to speak out for human rights and ensure that our LGBT+ members – both now and in the future – are welcome in every aspect of what we do.'
If you wish to attend Pride in London with Nautilus on Saturday 6 July 2019, please email: [email protected]. A limited number of places are available, so you are advised to get in touch as soon as possible.
*Photos courtesy of Nautilus International