Brunei foreign minister Erywan Yusof has claimed the country’s new anti-gay laws—under which gay sex is punishable by death—would focus “more on prevention than punishment.”

In a letter to the United Nations, Yusof claimed that the laws would aim to “educate, deter, rehabilitate and nurture.”



The letter comes just over a week after the small Asian country introduced death by stoning for gay people.

Brunei: foreign minister claims the laws will protect their ‘traditional, religious and cultural values’

In the letter, Yusof said the laws are intended to preserve Brunei’s “traditional, religious and cultural values.” He claimed the laws are not man-made, but are “ordained by Allah.”

He argued that gay people would be unlikely to be stoned to death under the laws due to the “extremely high evidentiary threshold.” He said a gay man will be sentenced to death by stoning if two or four men “of high moral standing” can say they have “no doubt at all” about the claims made against him.

“It must be appreciated that the diversities in cultural, traditional and religious values in the world means that there is no one standard that fits all.”

– Brunei foreign minister Erywan Yusof

He said the laws would only apply to Muslims, but also said that others could be tried under the laws if they were found to have had gay sex with a Muslim.

Elsewhere in the letter, Yusof—without any irony—claimed that Brunei strongly rejects acts of torture and said they were committed to human rights.

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He also argued that Brunei is a safe haven for women where their rights are promoted and respected, and said they have opportunities in healthcare, education and employment that they don’t have elsewhere.

“It must be appreciated that the diversities in cultural, traditional and religious values in the world means that there is no one standard that fits all,” Yusof said.

Brunei claims anti-gay law is intended to ‘prevent’ rather than punish
ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty

The letter has been condemned by Amnesty International

The letter was strongly condemned by Amnesty International’s deputy director of global issues, Stephen Cockburn.

In a statement released today, he said: “To defend the threat of amputation and stoning as aiming to ‘rehabilitiate and nurture’ is plainly absurd.

“To legalise torture is sickening and callous in any circumstance. To do so as a preventative measure is also reckless.”

He said enacting the laws would create a “toxic and threatening environment” in Brunei.

UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt met with the Bruneian foreign minister yesterday to discuss the new laws. In a post on Twitter, 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.




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