The small southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei announced back in 2014 that it would adopt strict Islamic laws such as death by stoning for gay sex and adultery. That was when many in the country’s LGBT community considered fleeing, but some stayed on, hoping that the law would never come to pass.
Presently, beginning with April 3 as per the new penal code based on Sharia law announced on the country’s government website in December, anyone found guilty of homosexual sex or adultery will be stoned to death. The punishment will be “witnessed by a group of Muslims.” The website also quotes that Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, “does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but that it would suffice if they just respect the nation in the same way that it also respects them.”
The controversial law has brought over strong opposition from abroad, the US State Department saying it is “concerned” by Brunei’s decision and “some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations.” The statement also added:
“Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people, including LGBTI people, can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled. We strongly oppose human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI persons, including violence, the criminalization of LGBTI status or conduct, and serious forms of discrimination.”
Other politicians from all over the world, as well as celebrities, have stated they are opposing the new law and claimed they stand against it because it violates very basic human rights. Among these personalities we count former US Vice President Joe Biden, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Australian Sen. Penny Wong, UK Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Human rights lawyer and Member of the New Zealand Parliament Golriz Ghahraman; as well as Elton John, Jamie Lee Curtis, Richard Branson, and actor George Clooney, among others – who called for immediate boycott of hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Group which is controlled by the Sultan of Brunei.
However, the country has already announced its intent to not halt the law amid international pressure according to a statement from the office of Brunei’s Prime Minister released on Saturday: “Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of law.”