Current Affairs

Brunei says new anti-gay laws will ‘deter’ people from anti-Islamic acts

Patrick Kelleher March 30, 2019
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Brunei foreign minister says gay executions are ‘unlikely’ despite new law

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Queen Saleha (ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty)

The prime minister’s office in Brunei has defended its decision to introduce the death penalty to punish gay sex and adultery.

In a statement provided to Reuters today, the prime minister’s office said the new laws would be fully implemented from next week.

“The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,” the statement said.

The small Asian country—which has a population of around 500,000 people—intends to implement new Sharia laws on April 3, which will also see theft punished with amputation.

Brunei introduced Islamic criminal law in 2014

Brunei initially introduced Islamic criminal law in 2014 and announced that it would be fully implemented over the course of three stages.

Responding to the news this week, human rights group The Brunei Project said the government was “rushing through the final two phases concurrently.”

“While this means that the Government is breaking its promise to implement the laws in three distinct phases, with a grace period between each phase, what is even more alarming is the secrecy with which it is doing so.”

The decision to introduce the new laws has led to international backlash. Yesterday, actor George Clooney penned an op-ed for Deadline where he announced that he intended to boycott hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. The organisation is owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

“The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.”

– The office of the prime minister in Brunei

In the article, Clooney also called on others to boycott the hotels, saying everybody who went to them was “putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay.”

He continued: “Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”

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 Images)

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, but was previously punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Yesterday, the UK government warned British citizens travelling to Brunei of the potential impact of the new laws.

“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.”

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

Related topics: Asia, Brunei, Brunei, death penalty, gay sex, islamic law, LGBT, sharia law, sodomy, stoning to death

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