In the wake of the Sultan of Brunei‘s enacting of sharia law in his country — which includes the death penalty for homosexuality and adultery — American media personality and gossip columnist Perez Hilton took to his YouTube channel and claimed that the ruler’s son as gay.
According to Hilton, Prince Azim, who is 4th in line to the throne, has frequently hobnobbed with LGBT celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Gus Kenworthy. As LGBTQ Nation points out, Kenworthy recently deleted a photo of himself and Jenner attending a party thrown by the prince after receiving backlash.
From LGBTQ Nation:
Azim, [is known] for his lavish parties with celebrity-studded guest lists where the booze flows freely despite also being banned under the law. His brother, Prince Jefri, is also reportedly “hedonistic” and adultery would be his fatal sin.
Both men would be put to death under their father’s law.
“You all know I don’t out people anymore,” Perez said in the video. “I used to do that back in the day but I’m making an exception here. I’m guessing the Sultan of Brunei doesn’t know that his son, Prince Azim, [is gay]. I would know because I have spent time with Prince Azim.”
Perez’s claim doesn’t mention specifics and only relies on his interpretation of photos. As Queerty points out, the website Horner recently posted a piece claiming that Azim is gay, but the Newsweek article the piece links to makes no such claim.
In recent decades, the Sultan has advocated for a hard-line version of Islam — a version that conflicts with his family’s lavish lifestyle. Brunei’s new laws went into effect last Wednesday and brought a huge backlash of celebrities and politicians calling for boycotts against the royal family’s financial interests.
According to Francisco Bencosme of Amnesty International, public pressure is unlikely to change the Sultan’s mind.
“The more international outcry there is, it makes the sultan look more like he’s the defender of conservative Islam,” he told The New York Times. “It’s not only a moral thing or a commitment to international law, but it’s also going to impact the businesses of many of these particularly middle- and upper-class people of Brunei.”