Now Reading
UN slams ‘inhuman’ Brunei law on death sentence for LGBTI people

UN slams ‘inhuman’ Brunei law on death sentence for LGBTI people

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

The United Nations‘ high commissioner for human rights has condemned as ‘inhuman’ Brunei’s move to punish LGBTI people with stoning, whipping and amputation.

Last month, Gay Star News broke the news that Brunei was quietly rushing to implement the Sharia Penal Code by 3 April.

The controversial penal code includes death by stoning for people convicted of sodomy, and whipping for those condemned for adultery or rape.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s top rights official, pleaded the government to ‘stop the entry into force for this draconian new penal code which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented.’

She dubbed the laws punishments as ‘cruel, inhuman, and degrading.’

Global outcry

Bachelet’s comments come amid global outcry against the legislative change.

Brunei itself – a tiny, oil-rich patch of the island of Berneo – has only 430,000 people living there.

Yet, this in no way stopped the immense and continuing condemnation of their government.

LGBTI people and organisations on the frontline of the country, such as The Brunei Project, act as some of the few support networks in the country.

While high-profile celebrities – from George Clooney to Elton John – have spoken bluntly of their decisions to boycott all Brunei-owned hotel businesses.

The US State Department criticized the move, too, but stopped short of fully condemning the law.

Background of Brunei

Rulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional interpretations of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.

In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one the same.

For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.

All a stark contrast to neighbouring Muslim-majority nations, such as Indonesia or Malyasia.

Sharia Penal Code: In three stages

Back in 2014, Bolkiah announced the Sharia Penal Code would be implemented in three stages.

The first stage of legal reforms was no struggle to lawmakers, but its second and third stages experienced holdups.

However, the Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website officially posted plans to fast-track implementation of the SPC on 29 December 2018.

See also