Aberdeen University has revoked an honorary degree awarded to the Sultan of Brunei after a vote by the academic body.
Hundreds of students and staff had signed a petition calling for the honour to be withdrawn following Hassanal Bolkiah’s decision to introduce laws in the south-east Asian country which would see people found guilty of engaging in gay sex or adultery stoned to death.
Convicted thieves would also face the punishment of amputation.
In a statement to student and staff, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor George Boyne said: “The Sultan was awarded an honorary degree by our University in 1995.
“It was given 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 due to his interest in our geology and petroleum engineering research.
“In light of recent developments, the University undertook a review of how this award now fits with our values.
“Today I can inform you that the honorary degree has been revoked following a vote by Senate, our academic body, which approved a recommendation from our Honorary Degrees Committee.
“Our internal process also included an opportunity for the Sultan to respond to the recommendation.
“The response from the Sultan was considered by the Senate and the 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.
“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.”
Bolkiah owns billions of pounds worth of property in the UK.
He has ruled as the country’s supreme monarch for decades, overseeing a population of around 450,000.
His strict new laws came into force at the beginning of April, and have been widely condemned across the world.
The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt said “No one should face the death penalty because of who they love.
“Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT+ community and those who defend their rights. LGBT+ rights are human rights.”
Celebrities including George Clooney have called on the public to boycott Brunei-owned hotels, such as the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
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