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Ellis-Petersen writes: "Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country's highly criticized implementation of sharia law."

The new law is a directive from the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. (photo: David Cantrille/Alamy)
The new law is a directive from the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. (photo: David Cantrille/Alamy)


Brunei Brings in Death by Stoning as Punishment for Gay Sex

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen, Guardian UK

28 March 19


People in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom face draconian new penal code based on sharia law

runei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system that imposes strict corporal punishments. It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn (£15bn) and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as “a great achievement”.

Alcohol is already banned in Brunei, as are showy Christmas celebrations, and there are fines and jail sentences for having children out of wedlock and failing to pray on a Friday. However, a heavy international backlash against Brunei imposing some of the more brutal sharia punishments has slowed their full implementation over the past five years.

In 2014, Brunei’s promises to implement sharia law prompted protests in Los Angeles, outside the famed Beverley Hills hotel and Hotel Bel Air, both of which were owned by the oil-rich nation. The hotels were accused of the “height of hypocrisy” for offering packages to LGBT couples, while being bankrolled by a country that has condemned homosexuals to death.

Brunei was a British colony until 1984 and the two countries still enjoy strong ties. Homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei since British colonial rule but under the new laws it is now punishable by whipping or death by stoning rather than a prison sentence. Capital punishment will also apply to adultery and rape.

The announcement that sharia law is to be rolled out from next week, specifically targeting the gay community, was met with horror by human rights groups. Amnesty International urged Brunei to “immediately halt” implementing the penalties, which they said were “deeply flawed”.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, said: “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls. To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself.”

She added that some of the potential offences “should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender”.

The UK’s international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said: “No one should face the death penalty because of who they love. Brunei’s decision is barbaric and the UK stands with the LGBT community and those who defend their rights. LGBT rights are human rights.”

Gay rights groups pointed out that 2,000 British troops are stationed in Brunei and the UK is urgently seeking a new trade deal with the oil-rich country. The British trade envoy for Brunei, Paul Scully, was in the country in October for talks, and there have been calls for him and the Foreign Office to join Mordaunt in condemning the plans.

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokeswoman, said: “This is disgusting. Historic ties are not enough to justify ignoring this kind of assault on human rights. We must demand better of our trade partners.”

The sharia law would apply only to Muslims, who make up about two-thirds of the population.

The sultan, despite the austere religious laws governing moral behaviour in Brunei, was embroiled in a scandal involving his brother Prince Jefri Bolkiah, who embezzled $15m from the state during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s, leading to a long-running feud between the pair.

Jefri’s flamboyant and un-Islamic lifestyle, which came to light in a series of court cases, involved a harem of foreign mistresses and the purchase of cars, erotic sculptures and a luxury yacht he called Tits.

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0 # HenryS1 2019-03-28 22:47
This is one of those news stories that epitomizes "No good can come of this".

Perhaps the Fox crowd will start to warm to the idea of sharia law in its purest form.

At least we have a national leader giving Trump competition in the tastelessness competition. A luxury yacht named "Tits" sounds like one of those things that the Donald will have to forego until after his Presidency is over. The optics, you know....
 
 
+2 # Thomas Martin 2019-03-28 23:06
It’s good to care about what’s happening to human beings all around the world. However the US seems to be more concerned about how we can capitalize on our financial relations, or control, of foreign governments, than we are about what’s going on with the rules of those governments. So we prostrate ourselves to the likes of Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who blocks what we (do we?) assume are human rights … of women, and imprisons those who have spoken out for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Abdulaziz Al Saud undoubtedly also ordered the sadistic torture and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. And yet, our government (you know who) dismisses this, saying, the US has a lot depending on financial relations with Saudi Arabia, so we’ll overlook it. This is immoral. And now, if we continue to do “business as usual” with Brunei and its “Sultan”, who’s going to stone to death those in homosexual or extramarital relationships, just shows how low our own standards have become.
 
 
+2 # lorenbliss 2019-03-29 03:01
Deny it or not -- and alas, most of Moron Nation remains brain-locked in steadfast denial -- this is precisely the sort of hatefulness (essentially the same maximized misogyny that is knowingly destroying our Mother Earth), that is at the innermost core of Abrahamic religious doctrine.

Doubt me? Study the genocidal history of each of the three Abrahamic religions.

Wonder why they're so hateful? Because their god commands these religions to be not just an expression of divine sadism, but an anti-Nature death cult as well.

Want to see it in print? Read the Old Testament -- equally the foundational text of Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- and note how most of our past 3500 years of history, especially the last 2600 years – expresses precisely the same lust for torture, murder and genocide celebrated therein.
 
 
0 # AldoJay69 2019-03-29 03:12
Sharia = Hysteria.
 

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