Days after Brunei’s decision to implement new laws that would punish members of the LGBTQIA community – along with adulterers – with the death penalty, the United Nations (UN) has joined the chorus of international voices condemning the country.
The laws, parts/elements of which were first announced in 2013 and adopted in 2014 (and have been rolled out in phases since then), will be fully implemented this month. Ruled for 51 years by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Southeast Asian nation plans to implement a severe interpretation of Islamic sharia law. Under the strict laws, adultery, sodomy, robbery, rape and insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad would all be punishable by death. Those who are caught having gay sex or committing adultery would be executed by stoning.
According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the change in law is “cruel and inhuman.”
“I appeal to the government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented,” Bachelet said in a statement.
Earlier, celebrities like George Clooney and Elton John reacted to this issue, calling – among others – for a boycott of Brunei-owned businesses until the law is reconsidered.
“The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,” the statement said.
Some aspects of the laws will apply to non-Muslims.