Brunei Adopts Penal Code Provision Calling for Death by Stoning for Same-Sex Acts

Washington, D.C.  – Human Rights First today expressed alarm over Brunei’s adoption of a new penal code provision that calls for death by stoning for individuals convicted of same-sex acts. The Brunei government announced today that the country’s new penal code, which includes the extremely homophobic provision, will be enacted tomorrow with the introduction of new fines and prison sentences for a wide variety of criminal acts.

“We are deeply concerned to learn that Brunei will soon be sentencing members of the LGBT community to such an unjust, harsh and inhumane punishment based solely on their identities,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “This new penal code is a clear example of the alarming backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide which is resulting in increased persecution, harassment and violence. The United States should immediately condemn this provision and consider taking diplomatic action to promote the protection of Brunei’s LGBT community. ”

The new provision, reportedly rooted in Islamic sharia law, is a step backward for the Southeast Asian nation, which held its last election nearly 60 years ago and previously punished homosexual acts with an already draconian 10-year prison sentence. This newest provision to the penal code was adopted just last week.

The first phase of the new penal code will introduce new fines and prison sentences for a variety of infractions. The second phase, which will be implemented within the next year, will restore the brand of corporal punishment that punishes simple theft with the severing of limbs. Finally, by the end of two years, the third phase of enactment will culminate with the introduction of the death penalty. Acts that are considered capital crimes under the new penal code include blasphemy, insulting the Quran, rape, murder, or engaging in extramarital relations. Same-sex sexual acts are specifically named as worthy of death by stoning.

With this new provision, Brunei becomes part of an alarming trend that is also unfolding in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia to enact discriminatory laws that infringe on the rights of LGBT people based on their identity. In parts of Africa, similar sharia laws have been used to call for public floggings of suspected LGBT individuals, and more broadly, legislators have passed homophobic legislation that can lead to life imprisonment for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” In parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, anti-propaganda laws have begun to take root that are inspired by Russian legislation used to ban Pride events, silence journalists, and target LGBT organizations.

Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership on global LGBT rights by taking diplomatic action to respond to anti-gay laws, working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws, and promoting the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide.


Published on May 1, 2014


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