Brunei’s foreign minister has reportedly told UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt that gay people are “unlikely” to be stoned to death despite the country’s new anti-LGBT+ laws.
Hunt posted about his meeting with Bruneian foreign minister Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof on Twitter where he said: “Just had the Bruneian foreign minister to my office to drive home the UK’s shock at new Sharia law. We work well together on many issues, but profoundly disagree on this.
“His suggestion that Sharia prosecutions are in practice unlikely is not acceptable: everyone should be free to be who they are and love who they want,” he continued.
Brunei introduced death by stoning for gay people and adulterers last week
Hunt’s meeting with Brunei’s foreign minister comes just a week after the small Asian country introduced its new Sharia laws.
The harsh new penal code requires death by stoning for gay sex or adultery, while lesbian sex is punished by 100 lashes with a whip.
The imposition of the new law was first announced in 2014, and was finally enacted this month despite condemnation from human rights chiefs.
“His suggestion that Sharia prosecutions are in practice unlikely is not acceptable: everyone should be free to be who they are and love who they want.”
– Jeremy Hunt
United Nations high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet branded the laws as “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments.”
Bachelet had said: “I appeal to 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.”
The Sultan of Brunei has defended the law
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has defended the law despite an international backlash, defending Brunei’s right as a “sovereign Islamic and fully independent country” to “enforce its own rule of laws…like all other independent countries.”
Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, but was previously punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The introduction of the Sharia laws in Brunei led to a renewed campaign to boycott hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
Calls for a boycott were led by George Clooney in an op-ed for Deadline. Other celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John and Dua Lipa later followed suit.
Last weekend, hundreds of people protested outside The Dorchester hotel in London, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei.