Brunei will enact a series of laws beginning next week that, among other things, could punish those convicted of homosexual acts with death by stoning, Gay Star News first reported this weekend.
“Pending provisions in Brunei’s Penal Code would allow stoning and amputation as punishments — including for children, to name only their most heinous aspects,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei researcher at Amnesty International said in a statement Tuesday night. “Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”
The laws, which will go into place on April 3, come as a part of a protracted process to implement Sharia law in the country. This process started back in 2014, with plans for three phases spread out over two years. The international community condemned the first set of guidelines harshly, which likely caused a delay of the follow-up stages. Among other things, that set of laws criminalized pregnancy outside of marriage or failure to pray on Fridays. April’s implementation would be the second phase.
"We are facing a dangerous crisis as Brunei is close to implementing laws that impose state-sponsored torture and murder of LGBTQ people," the Human Rights Campaign Global Director, Ty Cobb, wrote to Out in a statement. "It's absolutely crucial that the international community speak out now and demand that the Sultan of Brunei stop these barbaric changes that threathen the lives of Brunei citizens. The Trump-Pence Administration must also immediately make clear that these outrageous human rights abuses will not be tolerated."
The new Penal Code, which which lawmakers have been discreetly working on for months now, is only briefly mentioned in a small notice on Brunei’s Attorney General's website back in December, would label all sexual intercourse between individuals of the same-sex as illegal, which is punishable by being stoned to death. According to Gay Star News, to be convicted, individuals would have to confess or be seen committing the acts by four witnesses.
The Brunei Project, an independent human rights initiative who first made the news of this second phase public, tells Out that since information began to circulate, the Brunei government has not denied it. Local media has also not covered the new legislation.
Brunei had already had laws that criminalized homosexual acts, as did many countries who had been under British colonial rule. These new guidelines would drastically change the sentencing, which previously was punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.