Even amid a global backlash, Brunei has defended the use of Islamic laws that punish offenders with controversial methods, saying they are in place to “educate” and protect Islam.
Brunei, a small oil-rich country of 400,000 near the South China Sea, will start implementing Sharia laws on April 3, punishing those who engage in homosexuality or adultery by death. They would also punish sodomy, adultery and rape with death by stoning, and theft with amputation.
The laws have been rolling out in different phases since 2014 and will be fully implemented next week, according to a statement on Saturday from the prime minister’s office.
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Sharia law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, “also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,” the statement said, per Reuters.
Hollywood icon George Clooney recently spoke out against the harsh penalties for homosexuality, urging a boycott of the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel because its owner is Brunei’s leader.
The sultan of Brunei, 72, has stayed in power for nearly 52 years, as the country does not hold elections. Forbes and Time have previously ranked the sultan as one of the wealthiest royals in the world.
“Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in,” Clooney wrote in Deadline. “Every single time we stay or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.”
Politicians such as Joe Biden have also spoken out against these Islamic laws and the decision by Brunei to impose them.
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“Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral,” former Vice President Biden said in a Twitter post on Friday. “There is no excuse — not culture, not tradition – for this kind of hate and inhumanity.”