Asian sexual health groups fear that Brunei’s plans to stone convicted homosexuals to death will hamper efforts to combat HIV among men-who-have sex with men in South East Asia
The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) and the Islands of South East Asian Network on Male and Transgender Sexual Health (ISEAN) have expressed alarm at the prospect of the implementation of the Sultanate of Brunei’s new penal code which would see the death penalty imposed for adultery, homosexuality and leaving the Islamic faith.
Under the Revised Penal Code those convicted of having sex with a person of the same-sex would be stoned to death and APCOM and ISEAN fear that enforcing the law will drive men-who-have-sex-with-men underground – hampering efforts to educate them about HIV or learn their HIV status.
‘This law carries heavy and degrading penalties that create barriers towards enjoying right to sexual health especially in accessing preventive measures that will protect people from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,’ APCOM executive director Midnight Poonkasetwattana said.
‘This law will further, if not lead, the discrimination against gay and transgender people.’
The groups also fear how the law might impact on those trying to provide such information and services in Brunei
‘There is an opportunity for the leadership of Brunei to work with local public health organizations to map out a way forward,’ ISEAN network coordinator Laurindo Garcia said.
‘We wish to show our support for local HIV organizations and health providers who will continue to engage with the government and other stakeholders in Brunei to resolve this issue.
‘Our hope is that a local solution can be found so that the people of Brunei who are living with or most-affected by, HIV are able to access life-saving treatment, care, support and prevention without interrupt or fear of violence.’
Brunei has delayed implementing the law so far after international condemnation but has warned it will be put into practice ‘in the very near future.’