Xtra Weekly
3 min

Xtra Weekly: Brunei to punish gay sex with death by stoning

Gender reveal cakes, Mayor Pete, and Sam Smith. Here’s your Xtra Weekly, April 5

Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah speaks at the International Convention Centre to celebrate the Islamic event Isra Mi'raj, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on Apr 3, 2019. Credit: STR/EPA

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WEEKLY DEBRIEF

Brunei to enact strict Shariah laws which will include punishing gay sex with death by stoning.

Here’s the background 👉In 2014, amid international outcry, Brunei became the first country in east or southeast Asia to adopt Shariah law after Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (who is also the prime minister) used the government’s official website to announce the implementation of the first phase of the Shariah Penal Code.

Brunei’s new penal code can apply to both Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. Under the law, punishments for adultery, rape and gay sex include flogging, dismemberment and death by stoning.

Prior to 2014, Brunei had already implemented stricter, more traditional rules, such as banning the sale of alcohol.

The latest 👉As of Wednesday, anyone found guilty of crimes including rape, adultery and gay sex will be sentenced to death by stoning.

In a statement, the sultan said, “Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws.”

How this law affects the LGBTQ2 community in Brunei 👉After the announcement, LGBTQ2 Bruneians expressed fear, with some saying they have even considered fleeing the country.

In an interview with CNN, Khairul, a young gay man in Brunei says, “[The laws are] inhumane. It’s a very aggressive punishment. It’s not something that a human should suffer … just because of being a homosexual.”

In the same interview, a trans woman named Zain says she fled Brunei late last year and is now seeking asylum in Canada.

“I wanted to live my life on my own terms, in the sense that I wanted to be a woman. I wanted to live a life without religious fundamentalism, conservatism, so I just left the country,” Zain said. “Under Sharia law, I would be fined and caned and jailed.”

Citizens from neighbouring Muslim countries were also concerned about the implementation of the laws.

Malaysia, where nearly two-thirds of the population is Muslim, is governed by Islamic courts in family, marriage and personal issues. Last year, two Malaysian Muslim women were convicted under Islamic laws and caned for attempting to have sex with each other.

In an interview with the Associated Press, a Malaysian gay man who only wanted to be identified as Ludwig said, “I am very worried that Indonesia or Malaysia may follow the lead.”

How the rest of the world is reacting 👉In a statement released Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says, “I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented.”

Countries around the world also condemned Brunei’s new laws. In a tweet, the Canadian government said it is deeply concerned with Brunei’s decision and that Canada “will always oppose the #deathpenalty.”

On Tuesday, the United States also criticized Brunei’s ruling. In a statement, the US State Department spokesman said Brunei’s decision “runs counter to its international human rights obligations.”

Southeast Asian human rights activist group the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus called for the government of Brunei to halt the full implementation of the Shariah Penal Code. The European Union also condemned Brunei’s decision saying the punishments permitted under the new laws amount to cruel and inhuman treatment.

Celebrities like George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres have called for a boycott of luxury hotels controlled by the Brunei government.

WORLD AT A GLANCE

🌎 The federal election is coming up, so here’s what you need to know about where Canadian political parties rank on LGBTQ2 issues.

🌎 Love is love is love. The Cayman Islands legalizes same-sex marriage.

🌎 Human Rights Watch is urging Lebanon to end anti-LGBTQ2 law. Right now, the country punishes “unnatural” sexual relations with up to one year in prison.

🌎 What fresh hell is this? Tennessee’s House of Representatives just passed a bill that would allow state-funded adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ2 people.

🌎 A novelist was arrested in Sri Lanka for writing about homosexuality. 😠

🌎 The Michigan pastor who shot and killed Kelly Stough, a trans woman, last year will be tried for murder in Detroit.

🌎 A Chinese dating app connects gay men with surrogates overseas. Very interesting, I know. Here’s more.

🌎 Chicago has elected its first lesbian mayor. I AM HERE FOR IT.

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