The country of Brunei is set to pass its Sharia Penal Code (SPC), which would punish homosexuality with death by stoning, according to Gay Star News.
Other punishments allowed under the SPC are amputation for those guilty of theft and death for those guilty of adultery and apostasy, the abandonment of a religion. The penal code is set to be passed and in action by Wednesday (April 3).
“I am extremely concerned by this move,” Matthew Woolfe, founder and director of The Brunei Project, one of only a few groups focused on LGBTQ rights in Brunei, told Gay Star News. “Some of the laws that we are about to see implemented are horrendous and unjustifiable.”
Plans to fast-track the implementation of the SPC were posted to the Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website late last year. If successful, the laws will apply to Bruneian Muslims.
The government of Brunei defended its decision to pass the Islamic law in a statement, making no reference to the rights of its LGBTQ community.
“Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws,” the statement said. “Brunei Darussalam has always been practicing a dual legal system, one that is based on the Syariah (Shariah) Law and the other on Common Law”
“In fully implementing the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO) 2013 from April 3, 2019, both systems will continue to run in parallel to maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith,” the statement continued. “The Syariah Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, it also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.”
The U.S. State Department said it was “concerned” about these new laws but stopped short of fully condemning them or directly commented on the most extreme of them.
“The United States is concerned with Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code,” the statement, issued to The Daily Beast, said. “Some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations, including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We have encouraged Brunei to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 2015, and to sign, ratify, and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Celebrities have spoken out about the violent anti-LGBTQ laws. Actor George Clooney said in an op-ed for Deadline that he urged people to follow in his footsteps and boycott the nine hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a company owned by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.
“Every time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery,” Clooney wrote. “Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”
Iconic gay singer Elton John commended Clooney’s call to boycott on Twitter.
I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect – as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world.