Despite heavy backlash from the international community, Brunei, the small nation of about 450,000 people on the island of Borneo, went ahead with enacting its new Islamic criminal laws Wednesday, which makes gay sex punishable by stoning to death.
The draconian penal code, enacted by the Southeast Asian country’s sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, is part of the predominantly Muslim country’s rollout of Sharia law, Time reported. In October of 2013, Bolkiah first announced that his nation would practice Sharia law.
Some of the proposed phases of the new laws, like making certain offenses punishable by amputation or death, were delayed amid global censure. But this week, Bolkiah defied critics and enacted legislation that allows ruthless punishments, some of which may even apply to children and non-Muslim foreigners.
Homosexuality, which was already illegal and punishable with prison time, is now a crime that can lead to death by stoning, according to Time. This sentence now also applies to those who commit rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sex and for insulting the Prophet Muhammed.
Lesbian sex is now punishable through whipping, theft with amputation, and teaching children about any religion except Islam has been criminalized as well.
Australia has raised our concerns with the Brunei government on the introduction of the full Syariah Penal Code today. We absolutely oppose the death penalty & are committed to the rights of LGBTI people. We will continue to advocate for human rights in the region & beyond. @dfat
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) April 3, 2019
The new code also “introduces public flogging as a punishment for abortion, for example, which again would disproportionately affect [women] who are already vulnerable,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet told VOA News.
And for women tying to escape violent marriages, the code “sets up serious barriers,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.
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