Published: Fri, April 05, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Brunei implements stoning to death under new anti-LGBT laws

Brunei implements stoning to death under new anti-LGBT laws

Brunei's sultan called for Islamic teachings in the country to be strengthened as strict new sharia punishments, including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, were due to come into force on Wednesday.

In a public address on Wednesday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah called for stronger Islamic teachings but did not mention the new penal code.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attends the retreat session during the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018.

Brunei is the first east or southeast Asian country to implement sharia penal code at the national level.

Actor George Clooney and singer Sir Elton John have led calls for a boycott on the Brunei Investment Agency, a sovereign wealth fund that owns some of the most famous hotels in the world.

The campaign is in response to Brunei's introduction of death by stoning for gay sex yesterday.

U.S. Secretary of State Deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said Brunei's decision "runs counter to its global human rights obligations" and that the U.S. "Please join me and spread the word about the boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei". The law mostly applies to Muslims, including children who have reached puberty, although some laws will apply to non-Muslims.

"You wake up and realise that your neighbours, your family or even that nice old lady that sells prawn fritters by the side of the road doesn't think you're human, or is okay with stoning", one Bruneian gay man, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC.

The controversial law received a lot of worldwide backlash, with Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney, Elton John, and Ellen Degeneres announcing that they would be boycotting the luxury hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.

"Given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia, the myID (staff travel) agreement between Virgin Australia and Royal Brunei has now been terminated effective immediately", said the email, a copy of which was made available to AFP.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's 2019 roundup, consensual same-sex sex acts are still officially or unofficially criminalized in 70 U.N. member nations.

The Australian Government has condemned the laws described by the United Nations as "cruel and inhuman" and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had raised concerns directly with her counterpart in Brunei.

"The penal code applies to all those who board a Brunei-registered aircraft even when in Australia", the group said.

Phil Robertson is the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. The previous maximum punishment for homosexual sex acts was 10 years in prison.

Dua Lipa has urged her followers to boycott Brunei-owned businesses after the country instituted a penal code which punishes homosexuality with death.

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