Homosexuality Is Now Punishable by Stoning to Death Under Brunei’s new Sharia Laws

Human rights organizations have fiercely opposed such edition to Brunei’s existing laws

Brunei authorities have confirmed that the oil-rich South Asian country will whip to death and stone LGBT+ people starting April 3. The new laws have been packaged as a series of reforms which the country has done to its penal code. The new legal directives reportedly follow the Shariah code of compliance. Human rights groups have reacted with horror to the new laws, which are much more conservative when compared to the fellow neighboring nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Amnesty International has described the laws as “inhumane” and “heinous.”

When Brunei’s new laws come into force during the first week of April, the small country will hold the unenviable distinction of being the first country in South East Asia to impose the death penalty for same-gender sex. Being gay was already illegal in Brunei, and anyone found engaging in such activities was punished with an extended stay in prison. Things have now become much worse due to the introduction of laborious Sharia processes for criminal punishment. Brunei is an absolute monarchy ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

According to Brunei’s new Sharia laws, a person caught stealing will be punished by amputation of the right hand if it is that person's first offense. If the individual commits the crime a second time, there will be amputation of the left foot. This law applies to minors too.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher with a specialization in Brunei, said that legalization of such inhumane and cruel practices could only be described as appalling. She pointed out a few of the punishable offenses as per Brunei law cannot be regarded as criminal activity by any yardstick, including consensual sex between two adults of the same gender. She said the global community must swiftly condemn the Brunei Government’s aim to apply such cruel laws.

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner, told the media the introduction of the death penalty by Brunei for people who engage in gay sex was a backward step which will damage the Asian country’s global reputation. He pointed out the country is one of the commonwealth member nations and the new laws directly violate the non-discrimination clauses and equality of Commonwealth Charter. Tatchell said it is essential that the Secretary-General “speak out against Brunei’s threat towards LGBT human rights.”

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