The RCGP accepted a ‘large’ donation from the Sultan of Brunei, it has emerged, as the college is coming under increasing pressure to cut ties after Brunei announced it was making gay sex punishable by death.
The college awarded the Sultan a ‘Companion of the College’ award in January 2013 and in a press release at the time, it was stated that the Sultan made a ‘significant donation to the College’s fundraising appeal and the new 300 seater auditorium at 30 Euston Square, centrepiece of the College’s conference facilities has been named in his honour.’
It is not currently confirmed how much the exact figure was, but according to Charity Commission accounts in 2014, the RCGP received £1,812,088 in voluntary income, a much larger figure than 2014’s donations (£364,445).
The news comes as a Change.org petition was started last week by GP trainee Dr Hollie Rolland, urging the college to rescind the honorary title given to the Sultan in the light of the country’s stance making gay sex punishable by death.
At the time of publishing, the petition has gained over 3,500 signatures.
GPs have supported the petition, with some saying they will cancel their membership if the RCGP do not rescind the Sultan’s title.
In 2014, the college refused to revoke the Sultan’s honarary title, which was met with heavy criticism, saying he was ‘committed to raising healthcare standards in his country’.
In her weekly message sent out to members sent out on Friday, RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Before I start this week, I want to address the current, very concerning situation in Brunei that many of you have contacted me about – particularly the College’s relationship with the country.
‘Please be assured, we are taking this issue extremely seriously, and are actively reviewing our relationship with Brunei at the very highest levels. However, decisions that often seem simple on the surface are much more complex in reality and cannot be made overnight. There are excellent GPs in Brunei who are members and fellows of the College and who need our support at a difficult time.
‘The College has always been absolutely clear that we do not, in any way, condone any abuses of human rights of any description. I will of course, keep you updated as to any developments.’
The RCGP said its Equality and Diversity statement shares their focus on ‘respecting diversity’, ‘working with others’ and reviewing ‘all College policies and processes to ensure fairness and equity.’
The family of the Sultan, who is also the Prime Minister, have ruled Brunei for over 600 years, and he has received various honours in the UK, including a knighthood from the Queen and an Honorary Doctorate from universities including Oxford and King’s College London, both of whom are also under pressure to revoke the title.