Brunei Implements Radical Measures Under Anti-LGBT Laws

Photo Credits: Flickr

Brunei, an Asian country with predominant Sunni Islam religion where homosexuality is illegal, has raised the bar a little higher with new radical measures under its anti-LGBT laws. The country is implementing stoning to death as a punishment for anal sex or adultery no matter the fact that adultery and homosexuality are protected against the death penalty by international law. Before this new set of laws homosexuality was punishable by up to 10 years in prison but now, as new measures came into force, the punishment is death penalty and it will be performed by stoning. The sultan of Brunei called for stronger Islamic teachings in his country and it looks like these new measures and rules are the way they want to make Islamic teachings stronger.

Brunei's gay community has been shocked by the "medieval punishments." An anonymous Bruneian gay man told the BBC, "You wake up and realize that your neighbors, 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."

People outside of Brunei are condemning the sultan's move. “Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement, as New York Times reports. He called on the nation’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, to “immediately suspend amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments.”

Besides adultery and homosexuality, the new set of laws also make abortion punishable by death by stoning, while the death penalty will also be required for some other offenses such as rape and some forms of blasphemy and heresy. Amputation of a hand or foot and whipping are also introduced as punishments for some crimes making these new laws barbaric. Brunei's new penal code also violates global prohibitions against torture and other mistreatment.

The question is whether these laws are going to be applied in practice. For example, the death penalty is a legal form of punishment in Brunei, but the last execution was carried out in 1957. The new laws require four Muslim witnesses to the act of anal sex or adultery for it to be prosecuted. "What I'm hearing from people in Brunei is that this is very, very unlikely to ever happen," Bill Hayton, associate fellow with the Asia Pacific programme at Chatham House, told the BBC. "The way it is being explained to me is that this is a way for the sultan to look religious but make sure that none of these punishments will actually be carried out." But the laws are there and whether they are going to be applied in practice or not they are making people in Brunei fear for their lives.

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