International desk, Mar 31: A law goes into effect Wednesday in Brunei that will punish adultery and homosexual sex with death.Anyone found guilty of the offenses will be stoned to death, according to a new penal code based on Sharia law, an Islamic legal system that outlines strict corporal punishments, CNN reports.
The strict new laws were announced by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, in 2014 and have been rolled out gradually in the small nation on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. The latest phase of implementation, including the brutal new provisions, was quietly announced on the Brunei attorney general’s website in December.
The Sultan “does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but that it would suffice if they just respect the nation in the same way that it also respects them,” according to the government website.
The country has no plans to halt the law amid international pressure, according to a statement from the office of Brunei’s Prime Minister released Saturday.
“Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of law,” the statement said.
Brunei government agencies have not responded to CNN’s inquiries.
The controversial proposal has provoked strong opposition in some quarters, and actor George Clooney called for the immediate boycott of hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Group, which is controlled by the Sultan of Brunei, in an op-ed he wrote for Deadline.
US Department of State
The State Department said it is “concerned” by Brunei’s decision, and “some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations,” a department representative said in a statement.
“Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people, including LGBTI people, can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled,” the statement said.
“We strongly oppose human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI persons, including violence, the criminalization of LGBTI status or conduct, and serious forms of discrimination.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
Kurz says Brunei’s decision to introduce the death penalty for gay sex is “cruel and inhumane” and should be withdrawn.
In a statement on Twitter, Kurz said: “I call on the Sultanate of Brunei to withdraw the death penalty by stoning (of) homosexual acts between consenting adults. The same goes for other countries which have the same cruel & inhuman laws. No one should be criminalized based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“Pending provisions in Brunei’s Penal Code would allow stoning and amputation as punishments — including for children, to name only their most heinous aspects,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, wrote in a statement this week.
“Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”