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RCGP set to remove honorary title from Sultan of Brunei

The RCGP is set to withdraw the honorary title given to the Sultan of Brunei at an ‘extraordinary meeting’ next week.

The college’s fellowship and awards committee made a unanimous recommendation this morning to rescind the ‘Companion of the College’ honour from the Sultan, which it awarded in January 2013 after the Sultan made a ‘significant donation to the College’s fundraising appeal’.

The recommendation will be discussed at an ‘extraordinary meeting’ on April 17 where committee members will ask council members to support their decision.

In light of the country’s recent laws making gay sex punishable by death, GPs urged the college to rescind the title, with a petition receiving almost 4,000 signatures.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard wrote a letter to the Sultan, saying that the latest developments in Brunei ‘contravene our values and everything that the College stands for’.

She added: ‘Laws that persecute and punish individuals on grounds of their sexuality, and which carry sentences such as flogging and death by stoning, are completely contrary to these principles and will create an environment that is inimical to the comprehensive provision of safe, person centred, patient care for all. For these reasons, we oppose such measures in the strongest possible terms.

‘We are a diverse and inclusive international organisation that is proud of its strong LGBTQ+ community of doctors and staff. Promoting equality and valuing diversity are central to the professional values of general practice and to the RCGP’s work to encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards of patient care.

‘When the College bestowed the honour of Companion of the College in 2013, these laws were not in place and we acted in good faith in recognition of your Government’s commendable commitment to developing primary care in your country.

‘Latest developments have jeopardised this good work and we implore you to revoke these measures as a matter of urgency, or the College will be forced to act on the recommendation of our Fellowship and Awards Committee to rescind our honour to you.’