Actor George Clooney has called Brunei's decision not to enforce the death penalty for gay sex “a huge step forward after a giant leap backwards.”

The oil-rich Southeast Asian nation began enforcing a penal code based on Sharia law on April 3. The laws punish gay sex and adultery with death by stoning.

In announcing the change, Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, seemed to portray the reversal as a clarification of the law.

“I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the [penal code],” he wrote in English. “We are conscious of the fact that misperceptions may cause apprehension. However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.”

Clooney was the first celebrity to call for a boycott of the nine hotels owned by the sultan. Two of the properties are located in California. Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John and Billie Jean King joined Clooney. Large corporations such as JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank also backed the boycott.

While Clooney called the reversal a “big step forward,” he vowed to continue to avoid the hotels until Brunei shelves the laws entirely.

“This is a huge step forward after a giant leap backwards,” Clooney said in a statement. “It promises that the citizens of Brunei won’t be executed for being gay. It also sends a very crucial message to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia that there is a cost for enacting these laws. And the cost isn’t folks boycotting their hotels. The cost is that corporations and big banks won’t do business with you. The financial institutions stepping up had a huge impact. Having said that, the law to stone their citizens is still in place. Meaning that as soon as the pressure dies down they could simply start the process of carrying out executions. So in reference to the boycott everyone should do what they feel is correct. For my family and me we simply can’t walk away until this draconian law is no longer on the books.”