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Brunei is introducing strict new Islamic laws that make anal sex and adultery offences punishable by stoning to death. The new measures, that come into force on Wednesday, also cover a range of other crimes including punishment for theft by amputation. Brunei's gay community has expressed shock and fear at the "medieval punishments". The sultan of the small South-East Asian nation on Wednesday called for "stronger" Islamic teachings.
Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Muslims make up about two-thirds of the country's population ofBrunei has retained the death penalty but has not carried out an execution since The law mostly applies to Muslims, including children who have reached puberty, though some aspects will apply to non-Muslims. Under the new laws, individuals accused of certain acts will be convicted if they confess or if there were witnesses present. Individuals who have not reached puberty but are convicted of certain offences may be instead subjected to whipping.
Brunei's ruling royals possess a huge private fortune and its largely ethnic Malay residents enjoy generous state handouts and pay no taxes. But Hollywood actor George Clooney and other celebrities have now called for a boycott of the luxury hotels. TV host Ellen DeGeneres also called for people to "rise up", saying "we need to do something now". Tomorrow, the country of Brunei will start stoning gay people to death. We need to do something now. Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
Raise your voices now. Spread the word.
Rise up. The hotel operator said it did "not tolerate any form of discrimination". In another development, a honorary degree awarded by the UK's University of Aberdeen to Sultan Hassanal is under review. The country first introduced Sharia law in despite widespread condemnationgiving it a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law. The sultan had said then that the new penal code would come into full force over several years.
The first phase, which covered crimes punishable by prison sentences and fines, was implemented in Brunei had delayed introducing the final two phases, which cover crimes punishable by amputation and stoning. But on Saturday, the government released a statement on its website saying the Sharia penal code would be fully implemented on Wednesday. In the days since, there has been international outrage and calls for the country to reverse course.
The United Nations echoed the statement, calling the legislation "cruel, inhuman and degrading", and saying it marked a "serious setback" for human rights protection. According to rights group Human Rights Without Frontiers, stoning is still a punishment in countries such as Iran, Somalia and Sudan among others. There are several theories, but Matthew Woolfe, founder of human rights group The Brunei Project, said it could be linked to Brunei's weakening economy. Mr Woolfe also added that the government might have hoped to get away with the latest roll-out without anyone realising.
The penal code changes were posted on the attorney general's website in December but only came to public attention in late March. There was no public announcement. One year-old gay Bruneian currently seeking Wanting sex on a dating Brunei in Canada said the impact of the new penal code was already being felt in Brunei. The ex-government employee, who left Brunei last year after being charged with sedition for a Facebook post that was critical of the government, said people were "afraid".
It hasn't happened yet but because of the new laws, people are afraid," he said. Another male Bruneian, who is not gay but has renounced Islam, said he felt "fearful and numb" in the face of the laws being implemented. One gay man was hopeful that the laws might not be enforced widely.
But it can and will still happen even with it being rare. It is very unlikely to happen at all, people inside Brunei have told Bill Hayton, associate fellow with the Asia Pacific programme at Chatham House. For instance, the laws stipulate that there must be four Muslim witnesses to the act of anal sex or adultery for it to be prosecuted, he said.
Clooney calls for Brunei hotels boycott. Brunei honour reviewed over gay stoning law. The move has sparked international condemnation. Brunei: What you need to know Where is gay sex still against the law? What is Sharia? What is punishable under the changes to the penal code? Offences such as rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insult or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad will carry the maximum penalty of death. What has global reaction been?
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. View original tweet on Twitter. Is this the first time Islamic law is being introduced in Brunei? Maldives annuls woman's stoning ruling How many countries still have the death penalty? Why is this being implemented now? How are people in Brunei reacting? Will the new laws be applied?
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