Modern Marketing

Transport for London network removes Brunei ads following condemnation of LGBT laws


By Charlotte McEleny | Asia Editor

April 4, 2019 | 5 min read

London’s transport network Transport for London (TfL) has agreed to take down advertising by Brunei and its government-owned airline Royal Brunei Airlines, after members of the public condemned the country’s new strict LGBT laws.

Brunei recently issued new sharia laws that would punish people with stoning for having gay sex. The laws have been condemned by many high-profile Western names, including celebrities like Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres, that have called for a boycott on brands owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

London Assembly member Tom Copely wrote a letter to the Mayor of London calling for the removal of the ads.


TfL agrees to pull down ads promoting Brunei

In the letter, posted to Twitter, he said: “The Public Sector Equality Duty includes eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the act. I am therefore writing to you in your capacity of Chair of TfL to ask that TfL no longer accepts Royal Brunei Airlines’ adverts or takes their money.”

He also posted a reply from the Mayor of London, which said that while the ads did not fall foul of the advertising policy when they were first booked, they did now breach the policy and that they would be taken down.

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“The advertisement was considered compliant with our advertising policy when it was submitted and accepted. However, given recent information that has come to light, it is clear that this is an issue of great public sensitivity and controversy so the advert will be removed from our network. Any proposed future campaign would be reviewed against our advertising policy, and this information would be considered in any decision,” read the statement.

On the Royal Brunei Airlines Facebook page, some social media users have taken to posting gifs related to pride, or that show same-sex couples kissing, as well as calling for a boycott of the country.

Other brands to have come under fire is the Dorchester group of hotels, which owns hotels like the Beverly Hills hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and also carries a link to the Brunei sovereign wealth fund.

The Beverly Hills hotel communications director, Brittany Williams, has released a statement, saying: “Dorchester Collection’s code (emphasises) equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity among our guests and employees. Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

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