Brunei Will Not Enforce Gay Death Penalty Following Outrage

International outcry!


6 May 2019

Article heading image for Brunei Will Not Enforce Gay Death Penalty Following Outrage

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The small South East Asian country sparked an outcry when it rolled out its interpretation of Islamic laws, or sharia, in April punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death including by stoning.

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then.

However, in a rare response to criticism aimed at the oil-rich state, the sultan said the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order.

Some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking, but no executions have been carried out since 1957.

The sultan's office released an official English translation of his speech, which is not common practice.

"Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country," he said.

"They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals."

The law's implementation, which the United Nations condemned, prompted celebrities and rights groups to seek a boycott on hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Several multinational companies have since put a ban on staff using the sultan's hotels, while some travel companies have stopped promoting Brunei as a tourist destination.

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