Global outcry as Brunei introduces gay sex stoning law

Nations, rights groups and celebrities have condemned Brunei’s new sharia laws that include death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.

Crimes such as rape and insulting the Prophet Mohammed are also punishable by death under the “draconian laws” that came into effect on Wednesday.

For robbery, the punishment is amputation of limbs. Women having same sex relationship could face 100 lashes or a maximum 10-year prison term.

Experts tried to allay fears of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Brunei, saying such harsh punishment will be hard to implement due to the high bar set for evidence. They pointed out that Brunei has not executed anyone for decades.

But a Guardian report says some members of the LBT community have already left the country seeking asylum in countries such as Canada.

Condemning the new sharia laws, the US, Germany and France have asked Brunei’s ruler and prime minister Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to repeal them.

The United Nations called the laws “cruel and inhumane.”

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, Asia said the laws are barbaric to the core.

They do not belong in the 21st century and Brunei will become a human rights pariah if it does not revoke them immediately, Robertson said.

Celebrities including actor George Clooney and pop star Elton John have led calls for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah seems unmoved by the global outcry against the new sharia laws and unlikely to change his course.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, the sultan said he wanted Islamic practices in the country to become stronger.

He wants the call to prayer in all public places to remind the country of 400,000 people of their Islamic duties.

Dismissing global concern over the new law, he said Brunei is a “fair and happy” country offering visitors “a sweet experience” through its safe and harmonious environment.

The sultan has been ruling Brunei for nearly five decades.