Brunei introduces death by stoning for gay sex amid international condemnation | World News

New Islamic laws in Brunei that would allow death by stoning or whipping for gay sex come into force from today.

The legal change in the tiny, oil-rich monarchy, also includes the death penalty for adultery and rape, and amputation for theft.

The move has sparked international condemnation, including from celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the punishments, which it says would also apply to children, as “vicious”

Human Rights Watch said Brunei’s new penal code was “barbaric to the core” and called for the immediate suspension of “amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments”.

Under international human rights law, corporal punishment in all its forms constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and is prohibited.

Brunei has defended the Sharia laws, saying “apart from criminalising and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam”, the legislation “also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race”.

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Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah is one of the world’s richest men

The US and Germany criticised the plans on Wednesday and urged Brunei to abide by existing international human rights obligations.

The country has been governed by Islamic Sharia law since 2014 and its ruling sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, is one of the world’s richest men.

The 72-year-old heads the Brunei Investment Agency and its nine properties include London’s Dorchester, 45 Park Lane and Cowarth Park Hotel in Berkshire where Prince Harry stayed on the eve of his wedding to Meghan Markle last April.

American actor Clooney, who is married to prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and has previously stayed at many of the hotels, has called for a boycott of them.

George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels
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George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine Brunei-owned hotels

“Every single time we stay at 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,” he wrote in a guest editorial piece last week for Deadline.

“Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.”

He said any boycott would likely have “little effect on changing these laws”, but added: “You can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

His call has been backed by other celebrities, including British star Sir Elton John.

Elton John and David Furnish at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
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Sir Elton says he and his husband David Furnish have avoided Brunei-owned hotels since the plans became public

“Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay,” said the singer.

“We recognise that sovereign countries will make decisions for their own citizens.

“But we feel we must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable. We must never underestimate the power of our voices – and our actions – to spark the change we need to see.”

Politicians and other celebrities have also attacked the plans.

The Dorchester Hotel is one of the hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency
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The Dorchester Hotel is one of the hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency

Former US vice-president Joe Biden tweeted: “Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral… There is no excuse-not culture, not tradition-for this kind of hate and inhumanity.”

Penny Mordaunt, the UK’s international development secretary, called the decision “barbaric”, while Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson tweeted: “This abhorrent, inhuman and medieval piece of legislation has no place in the 21st century.”

Homosexuality is still illegal in dozens of countries around the world including, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jamaica, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia and St Lucia, just to name a few.


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