Stoning people to death for being in consensual same-sex relationships will soon become punishment under a new law in Brunei.
Brunei first introduced Sharia laws in 2014, and so homosexuality was already punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
However, this new law would mean engaging in same-sex sexual acts could result in a person being stoned to death – and could also result in thieves having limbs amputated.
Quite obviously, this has caused international outrage.
Despite the outrage, Brunei have come out to defend their right to the law.
A statement from Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah reads:
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 laws will also apply to non-Muslims.
Former US Vice President Joe Biden was also vocal in his condemnation of the new laws, tweeting:
Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral. Every single person on earth is entitled to be treated with dignity and to live without fear. There is no excuse—not culture, not tradition—for this kind of hate and inhumanity. https://t.co/g208NzeS7l
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 29, 2019
Amnesty International released a statement on March 27 condemning the new law and calling the punishments it plans to introduce as ‘heinous’.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei Researcher at Amnesty International, said:
Pending provisions in Brunei’s Penal Code would allow stoning and amputation as punishments – including for children, to name only their most heinous aspects.
Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.
To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself. Some of the potential ‘offences’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.
Brunei’s Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, first announced the implementation and enforcement of Sharia law in April 2014; it was the first East Asian country to do so.
This implementation was the first of three stages of legal changes, including fines or jail sentences for ‘offences’ like pregnancy outside of marriage or failing to pray on a Friday, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
Brunei was supposed to implement the second and final stages – which include whipping and mutilations for Muslims found guilty of alcohol consumption or theft, and stoning to death for Muslims found guilty of engaging in same-sex sexual activity – in 2015 and 2016.
However, after international backlash, VICE reports, Sultan Bolkiah delayed the implementation of the final two stages until now. The newly implemented sections of the penal code are due to come into force next week on April 3, according to a notice on the Attorney General’s website.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard from Amnesty International explained:
These abusive provisions received widespread condemnation when plans were first discussed five years ago.
Brunei’s Penal Code is a deeply flawed piece of legislation containing a range of provisions that violate human rights.
As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion, and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.
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