For months now, Kyneton couple Anna and Katy have been planning a trip to Japan to celebrate Katy's 40th birthday.
But last week's news that the south-east Asian nation of Brunei was bringing into effect harsh laws to make homosexuality punishable by whipping and, in some cases, death by stoning, cast a dark pall over their happy plans.
In December, Anna and Katy booked their flights to Japan with Brunei's national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines, with a short stopover in the country.
They were scheduled to leave this Saturday.
But the news out of Brunei turned their pre-holiday excitement into concern for their safety.
"Our fears are of the unknown," Anna said, telling the Bendigo Advertiser they were not sure how the new laws would be policed.
Homosexuality has long been illegal in Brunei, but the new sharia laws - which passed in 2013 but came into full effect on Wednesday - introduce harsher penalties than have existed previously.
The airline and the Australian government advised the couple to exercise caution and avoid public displays of affection, but Anna said they were worried they would slip up in some way or their body language together would give them away.
"We kind of felt like we'd have to go in disguise," she said.
The government has updated its Smartraveller website to advise people of the new penal code in Brunei, including the fact the new laws apply to foreigners transiting through the country.
The couple were so concerned about the prospect of travelling on Brunei's national airline and passing through its airport that they changed their flights last weekend.
Related: Clooney urges Brunei hotel boycott
The new flights cost almost $3100, and the couple are also facing cancellation fees and losing what they paid for their original tickets, as without a formal warning from the Australian government or the airline, they are not entitled to a refund or insurance coverage.
With friends and family wanting to help out, they set up a GoFundMe page to make it easier for them to contribute.
But they have been overwhelmed by the support shown to them, with more than $2600 raised in four days.
Anna said the both quantity and size of the donations were unexpected.
"We'd like to thank everyone for their generosity and words of support," she said.
"It's nice to know we're not alone in this."
While the couple were relieved after booking new flights, Anna said she did not have words to describe her outrage at the existence of such laws.
"I definitely feel extremely concerns for the LGBT community in Brunei and everyone travelling through," she said.
"It makes me very sad and angry."
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said at a recent press conference the Australian government would continue to talk to the Brunei government about concerns over the new laws.
"We are strong supporters of human rights right across this region and more broadly, including in Brunei," Senator Payne said.
"We are absolute opponents of the death penalty in all circumstances, so any suggestion that laws would facilitate the application of the death penalty is a matter of concern to Australia."
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