Brunei to Impose Death by Stoning for Gay Sex and Adultery

Brunei is on the verge of implementing a new raft of restrictions that, among other heinous penalties, calls for stoning to death any Muslim accused of having same-gender sexual relationships.

According to multiple media outlets, starting on April 3 Brunei will punish both homosexual sexual intercourse and adultery with death by stoning. It is also implementing other Sharia penalties, such as punishing theft by removing limbs—the right hand for a first offence and the left foot for a second.

Homosexuality is already illegal under the small but rich sultanate’s laws, as are adultery and, of course, theft. These restrictions, however, underscore the nation’s embrace of ultra religious ideology.

“The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Brunei researcher, told the Telegraph. “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.”

The change in the law comes after a protracted gestation process that first started in 2014. International outcry has apparently prevented Brunei from pushing these changes through until now. This comes against the backdrop of other extreme religious policing in the country, for example banning of alcohol and penalties against non-Muslims celebrating Christmas to excess. There are also fines for failing to pray on Fridays and other religious-related edits. Women’s rights, while never on equal standing, have also degraded since this ultra conservative push started.

There is some confusion over the precise date when the stoning death penalty will come into force. A spokesperson for the Brunei religious affairs ministry said that, while the provisions on stealing will be ready as of April 3, the rest will hinge on the sultan’s word. ”Only after the event we will know regarding the date of the implementation of the new laws.” This isn’t so surprising.

Brunei’s legal enforcement relies in part on the pronouncements of the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is also the country’s prime minister. Bolkiah is scheduled to give a speech on April 3 regarding the new laws, and a timetable for broader implementation may emerge then. However, keeping certain aspects of this implementation as vague as possible can be used to shield the country as it presses ahead, something other countries like Uganda have done in the past with their anti-gay laws.

Speaking Out Against this Deadly Discrimination

Brunei enjoys a rather unique position in the world. As an oil-rich nation it has influence that is far beyond its incredibly small size of just 438,026 people. Its wealthy royal family regularly hobnobs with the world’s political elite who are keen to appease the sultan and his associates. However, it is not untouchable.

The Guardian notes that the UK is currently in a position of potential influence. It has 2,000 British troops stationed there, and the Brexit-embroiled UK government is currently seeking to negotiate further trade deals relating to the country’s oil. While Brunei does not necessarily need this trade agreement, its oil is running out, so it needs to capitalize on its political relationships while it has a strong hand.

The UK’s international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, has spoken out against the death penalty provisions, saying: “No one should face the death penalty because of who they love. Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT community and those who defend their rights. LGBT rights are human rights.”

Actor George Clooney has penned a letter in Deadline calling for people to boycott the nine hotels around the world owned by the Sultan’s family—including the The Dorchester, London; Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles and the Le Meurice, Paris. He acknowledges that he doesn’t think this will directly impact the country’s laws but rather that it is about not being complicit in this human rights crackdown, saying.

“But let’s be clear,” Clooney writes, “every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery. 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?”

Boycotts are always controversial, and Clooney readily acknowledges that there is damage to service workers when we boycott. However, the symbolism of Hollywood turning its back on Brunei-owned facilities is, again, an important moment because it is often those same mega-stars that are used for travel and tourism advertisements.

Tourism is something Brunei is hoping to develop as a new source of income. If Hollywood chooses not to give ground on this, Brunei could feel the effects of being denied spokespeople for a tourism push, which could harm its tourism efforts.

Take Action

Sign the petition to call on the Sultan of Brunei to halt the implementation of this new death penalty provision!

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images.

112 comments

Philip W
Philip W2 days ago

Leanne K, I'm sure these idiots would stone lesbians also. They are also stoning adulterers, which most likely will include women.

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Georgina Elizab M

tyfs

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danii p
danii p3 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p3 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p3 days ago

Thank you

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Leanne K
Leanne K6 days ago

Where's the hoo ha about women being stoned to death in other countries. Suddenly when it looks like men will be punished there's outcry.

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Leanne K
Leanne K6 days ago

Sharia is not tourist friendly, they've got that wrong too

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Leanne K
Leanne K6 days ago

Why do so many government's, so many countries decide to introduce extreme punishments when they are faced with a looming economic crisis

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Janis K
Janis K7 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Philip W
Philip W8 days ago

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson 1816 January 6. (to Charles Yancey)

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day . . . . I believe it [human condition] susceptible of much improvement, and most of all, in matters of government and religion; and that the diffusion of knowledge among the people is to be the instrument by which it is effected." - Thomas Jefferson 1816 April 24. (to Dupont de Nemours)

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