Following worldwide backlash, the country of Brunei has announced that it will not enforce the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality, reported the Independent.

In early April, the Southeast Asian country announced it would uphold Sharia Law, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death by stoning. The country faced intense condemnation from around the world, with celebrities like George Clooney and Sir Elton John enforcing a boycott of Bruneian hotels.

Now, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has made a complete 180 and has stated that the death penalty will not be enforced.

“As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law,” he said. “This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO, which provides a wider scope for remission.”

The country has had a death penalty in place for crimes like trafficking and premeditated murder. However, the country has not upheld this penalty, as it has not performed an execution since 1957, according to a UN report.

“Both the common law and the Syariah [sic] law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country,” the Sultan continued. “They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals.”

The Sultan’s office released the statement translated into English, something uncommon for Brunei.

The Human Rights Campaign released a statement recognizing the step taken in not upholding the law, but demanded it be repealed entirely.

“While this is an important step, we continue to call on [Bolkiah] to repeal this draconian law in its entirety and uphold all Brunei’s commitments under international law,” HRC Director of Global Partnerships Jean Freedberg said. “The world has turned its eyes to Brunei in recent months and we urge the countless advocates, activists, and organizations who seized this moment to speak out against these human rights abuses to continue to do so.”

Brunei has reportedly signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, the country has not yet ratified the convention. When ratified, the law bars all forms of corporal punishment, including stoning, whipping, and amputation.

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