Gather round, citizens. Global superstar George Clooney, ’90s heart-throb, 2000s serious movie star, and 2010s husband of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has done that thing that we seriously love – he’s gone and mentioned Indonesia and Malaysia on one of his celebrity talk show interviews.
Not just any talk show, mind you, but Ellen, the globally broadcast phenomenon slash midday mana when you’re sat at home on a Tuesday trying to sweat out your flu/hangover.
Only, he’s not telling TV’s most generous host about the great time he had in Langkawi, or about an orangutan conservation he just built. Nope – he singled out both Malaysia and Indonesia for our similarities to neighboring Brunei, which recently introduced harsh punishments as part of their Sharia law roll-out before backtracking on them.
Peep this first:
The Sultan of Brunei passed a law that made being gay punishable by death. George Clooney spoke up. I couldn’t be more grateful. pic.twitter.com/TYZNdrHMN8
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 9, 2019
OK, recap: A couple of months ago when Sharia punishments came into effect in the Sultanate of Brunei, many members of the international community were alarmed to hear that, among the punishments that would now be meted out, was the stoning to death of homosexuals.
For the record, being a homosexual in Indonesia is not illegal except in Aceh — the only province given special autonomy to enact sharia-based laws — although that might have been where Brunei got their ideas from.
Many Hollywood elites were appalled to find out that the owner of beloved haunts that include the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Dorchester in London was none other than the man behind the stoning laws himself, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. They called for a boycotting of his hotels and businesses.
“The way you make it difficult is by boycotting his hotels. That doesn’t matter so much to a rich guy, you can’t shame the ‘bad guys,’ but you can shame the people who do business with them,” Clooney said on the show.
“And when the banks and financial institutions started saying ‘well, we are out of the Brunei business’, then he backed off, and changed and said ‘put a moratorium’ on it,” the actor told fellow boycotter Ellen (and, in effect – hundreds of millions of viewers across the world).
Things took a turn for the interesting when Clooney claimed that, while shaming was ineffective in passive-aggressively making countries change their policies, Hollywood-powered boycotts did work and showed their celebrity embargo mattered.
He went on:
“… it sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia who also are considering these laws, that the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to say ‘don’t even get into that business,’ so that’s the reason you do it.”
Right. George. Jorge. Sit down. Can we talk?
While Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation, actually implementing the death penalty for being homosexual has never seriously been considered by the government.
We are certainly guilty of failing our LGBTQ+ community, and this is something that this publication talks about at least once a month, usually appalled, and always disappointed. However, we’re a long way from stoning anyone to death. Geez.
This story was adapted for Indonesian readers from our sister site Coconuts KL.