Against the Sultan

I got to the protest rather late because I stopped on the way to meet the people from Class War who were going to attend the protest. Of course they were in a pub, and the pub they had selected to meet was quite a walk from the Dorchester Hotel outside which the protest was taking place.

It took a while to finish our drinks and to get moving, and eventually I gave up waiting for them, especially when some decided they needed to get a bus., though it was only half a mile to walk. I left with one of the more active members and we hurried, getting there in well under ten minutes.

The ruling by the Sultan of Brunei to make stoning to death the sentence for gay sex, adultery and blasphemy had enraged people around the world, and protests were planned in many cities outside the luxury hotels he owns, including the Dorchester Hotel in London’s Mayfair.

There was a large crowd of protesters, but at some distance from the hotel entrance, on the pavements of the minor street that runs around the front of the building and its large yard which allow taxis to drive to its doors. There really wasn’t enough room for protesters on the pavements, but police were trying to keept the roadway clear, arguing with protesters who were reluctant to move.

Although I was over half an hour late for the start, I was still in time to photograph the two major speakers, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and human rights activist Peter Tatchell, as well of course as many of the protesters and their posters and banners.

Class War turned up with their two banners almost half and hour after me, and for a while stood with them on the roadway (which the police by this time had given up the impossible task of keeping clear.) Their late arrival was probably timed to ensure they missed the speeches.

After standing for a few minutes holding the banners, Class War sized up the situation decided it was time for some more definite action. They pushed aside the barriers around the hotel yard and with the ‘Women’s Death Brigade’ banner led a rush past police and security to protest on the steps of the hotel.

They shouted for the others to follow them, and a few came immediately. Eventually most of the rest of the crowd joined them for a long and noisy protest on the steps of the hotel. There were a few arguments with police who came to stand in front of the doors, but no arrests before I left three-quarters of an hour later.

Many more pictures at Brunei Sultan gay sex stoning protest


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