Brunei’s new anti-LGBT+ laws condemned as ‘inhuman’ and ‘draconian’ by UN

Sharia Criminal Code to punish gay sex and adultery with death, and theft with amputation

Adam Withnall
Asia Editor
Monday 01 April 2019 09:44
comments
LGBT+ people to be stoned or whipped to death in Brunei under new sex law

A move by Brunei to punish gay sex by stoning to death has been condemned as “inhuman” by the UN.

The new penal code is due to be implemented on Wednesday and is in keeping with sharia law, according to the Asian nation.

In a statement on Saturday, the office of sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said the changes would “criminalis[e] and dete[r] acts that are against the teachings of Islam”.

The new punishments will also include the death penalty for people committing adultery, amputations for theft, as well as introducing whipping for sodomy, adultery or rape.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s top human rights official, urged the government “to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented”.

Her statement comes amid global outcry at the development in Brunei, which is a former British protectorate and welcomes thousands of British tourists each year.

After the actor George Clooney called for a boycott of all Brunei-owned hotels around the world, Sir Elton John said he and his husband David Furnish had “long refused to stay at these hotels and will continue to do so”.

He listed hotels including The Dorchester in London and The Beverly Hills Hotel in California, saying: “We hope you will join us in solidarity.

“I commend my friend, George Clooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of Brunei – a place where gay people are brutalised, or worse – by boycotting the sultan’s hotels,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brunei, a tiny patch of Borneo island with a population of 400,000 people, has long enforced Islamic teachings far more strictly than other neighbouring Muslim-majority nations such as Malaysia or Indonesia.

Under the rule of Hassanal Bolkiah, the second longest-reigning monarch in the world, the country has banned alcohol and forbids the propagation of religions other than Islam.

Wednesday will see the complete roll-out of a new penal code first drawn up in 2014. While Brunei has never outlawed the death penalty in writing it has until now been abolitionist in practice, carrying out its last execution in 1957.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently updated its advice for Brunei, warning of “serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK”.

“If you are planning to visit or live in Brunei, you are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with local laws and customs,” it advises.

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