The team behind Top Gear has shown its support for the LGBTQ community by spray painting the rainbow flag on cars used for filming in Brunei, after the nation announced laws to make homosexuality punishable by stoning.
An episode of the motoring show’s new series was filmed in the Asian country, which lies on the island of Borneo.
Freddie Flintoff, who fronts the revamped programme alongside comedian Paddy McGuinness, revealed the spray painted cars and expressed his admiration for the LGBTQ community.
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Writing in The Guardian, the 41-year-old former cricketer said the programme would “never have filmed” in the country if they had announced its new laws before they had done so.
Immediately after the presenters returned to the UK, they learned that Brunei had announced death by stoning as a punishment for homosexuality and adultery, in line with its adoption of an ultra-conservative form of sharia law.
Flintoff revealed the show filmed an episode based around the team battling their way out of the jungle in cheaply bought cars to present them to a mystery collector, who transpires to be the Sultan of Brunei.
The film was made in collaboration with the Gurkha army unit.
Flintoff wrote: “We flew home on 28 March. That date is important because when we landed we found out that – as we’d been in the air – the sultan had announced new laws.
“We were horrified. Like millions of other people around the world, I utterly condemn Brunei’s actions.
“No one deserves to be stoned to death, whoever they love. Love is love.”
Flintoff confessed that producers have “thought very hard about dropping the film” in the wake of the announcement, but ultimately decided to show it.
He said the cars had been given “a little makeover” and will be shown on screen later in the series.
“Both the Gurkhas and other Bruneians worked incredibly hard to make [the film] happen,” said Flintoff, adding: “We don’t want all their efforts to be for nothing.”
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Flintoff and McGuinness made their debut as the new hosts, alongside returning motoring journalist Chris Harris, on Sunday night.
Overnight figures suggest that 2.54 million viewers watched the debut episode, dwarfing the 1.97 million viewers who tuned in for the launch of the previous series in February.
Top Gear airs on BBC Two on Sunday evenings.