The introduction of Brunei’s new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity has been delayed.

It was due to come into force today, although the delay has been described by officials as temporary.

They say the new penal code will be introduced once Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, returns from his trip to Singapore.

Same-sex sexual activity, adultery, rape, extramarital sexual relations, and declaring oneself to be non-Muslim, are set to be included in the new code as offences warranting violent punishment.

The United Nations last week condemned Brunei over the policy.

An official told the Brunei Times on Tuesday that sharia penalties — which will eventually include flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning would begin “in the very near future”.

Jauyah Zaini, assistant director of Brunei’s Islamic Legal Unit, was quoted by the Brunei Times as saying implementation had been delayed “due to unavoidable circumstances”. He did not elaborate nor give a new date.

Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1984.

Same-sex sexual activity is currently punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment.