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Brunei halts death penalty for gay sex after massive outcry

Brunei backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

Photo by vyngor from Pixabay.com

Brunei – a small Southeast Asian country – backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

Last month, Brunei rolled out a strict new interpretation of Islamic laws, or Sharia (first introduced in 2014, giving it a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law). The first phase covered crimes punishable by prison sentences and fines; and – on April 3 – the second phase covered crimes punishable by amputation and stoning. For the latter, offenses such as rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insult or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad carry the maximum penalty of death; lesbian sex carries a different penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in jail; theft merits amputation; and those who “persuade, tell or encourage” Muslim children under the age of 18 “to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam” are liable to a fine or jail.

But Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to cover the new legislation; with the reconsideration following global outcry over the laws. In a speech, the sultan said he was aware there had been “many questions and misperceptions” regarding the implementation of the legislation, called Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO). “As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.”

Death penalty is legal in Brunei, albeit no executions have been carried out in the country since 1957.

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