Brunei says it won’t enforce death penalty for gay sex after backlash | World News

The Sultan of Brunei has said that his country won’t enforce the death penalty for people found to have had gay sex, following widespread outcry.

Earlier this year, the new legislation in the tiny, oil-rich monarchy sparked international condemnation, including from celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

They called for a boycott on hotels owned by the country’s leader, including of the luxurious Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA.

On Sunday, the sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said he would be extending a moratorium on the laws punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death.

Although Brunei had already allowed the death penalty to be given for certain crimes, including premeditated murder and drugs trafficking, there have been no executions since the 1990s.

According to Reuters, the sultan gave a rare response to the criticism of the new law on Sunday ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Image:
George Clooney, here with wife Amal, has called for a boycott of hotels with links to Brunei
Brunei, shown in dark red, is in south east Asia
Image:
Brunei, shown in dark red, is in south east Asia

He said: “I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regards to the implementation of the [new law].

“However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.

“As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law.

“This will also be applied to cases under the [new law] which provides a wider scope for remission.”







Dorchester hotel targeted by Brunei protests

The unusual step of responding to criticism from the sultan was made even more unusual when the sultan’s office released an official English translation of his speech, which is not common practice.

At the time, the human rights group Amnesty International condemned the punishments, which it said 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”.


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