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Government warns Britons in Brunei over gay sex death penalty

Ella Braidwood March 29, 2019
Commonwealth: Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah

Brunei's sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty)

The UK government has warned LGBT+ British citizens travelling to Brunei, as the country prepares to introduce news laws making gay sex punishable by death by stoning.

In a statement released on Friday (March 29), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that it was concerned by the Southeast Asian country’s draconian legislation, which will see the country implement sharia law on April 3.

“Corporal and capital punishment goes against our national values and has been banned in the United Kingdom for decades,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson told PinkNews.

“The Minister for Asia and High Commissioner have raised their concerns in person, and we have updated the travel advice to warn British citizens of the new local laws in Brunei.”

Foreign Office minister writes to Brunei government to reiterate concern over gay sex death penalty

The Foreign Office confirmed to PinkNews that minister of state Mark Field has written to Dato Erywan, Brunei’s minister for foreign affairs, to reiterate the department’s concerns over the anti-LGBT+ legislation.

PinkNews understands that Field had already raised his concerns to Erywan in person on a previous occasion.

The introduction of the Islamic legal system of sharia law in the nation, a former British protected state, will also impose the death penalty for adultery and amputation for those found guilty of theft.

Brunei first announced its intention to introduce sharia law in 2013.

“Corporal and capital punishment goes against our national values and has been banned in the United Kingdom for decades.”

—Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson

It comes after women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt condemned Brunei, which sits on the island of Borneo, over its planned implementation of sharia law.

“No one should face the death penalty because of who they love,” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday (March 28).

“Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT+ community and those who defend their rights. LGBT+ rights are human rights.”

Demonstrators protest the punishment of women and LGBT people announced by the Sultan of Brunei near the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan, in Beverly Hills, California
Demonstrators protest the punishment of women and LGBT people announced by the Sultan of Brunei near the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan, in Beverly Hills, California (David McNew/Getty)

The British government updated its travel advice on Thursday (March 28) for the approximately 13,000 UK nationals travelling to Brunei annually.

“There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK,” the page now reads.

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

UK government updates travel advice for 13,000 Britons travelling to Brunei annually

The advice notes that homosexuality is illegal in the country.

The webpage continues: “In 2014, Brunei began the introduction of a Sharia Criminal Code, to run in parallel with the Common Law.

“The final phase will be introduced in April 2019.

“It specifies severe punishments, including amputation and death by stoning, for certain crimes, including some that are not illegal in the UK.”

More: Asia, Brunei, Brunei, death penalty, foreign office, gay sex, UK

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