Brunei Passes Law To Make Gay Sex Punishable By Stoning To Death

A rainbow flag carried at the front of a gay pride parade
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While most of the world moves forward with equal marriage rights and recognizing people who identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth, there are some corners of the Earth where people and countries are insisting on taking steps backwards in this regard.

The small Asian nation of Brunei is one of them, apparently. According to CNN, Brunei has just passed laws surrounding gay sex, and they’re not of the variety you would expect in 2019. Rather than embracing people of any sexuality, the country has decided to pass even stricter laws surrounding the practice of physical intimacy between two men or two women.

As of April 3, any individuals caught partaking in gay sex can be stoned to death, according to the new law. The legislation went a step further, stating that “the punishment will be witnessed by a group of Muslims.”

Although the law was officially passed through the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, in 2014, the country decided to institute a gradual roll-out of the new legislation, but the deadline for it will finally come about next week. This final step in the law was announced by the Brunei Attorney General back in December last year.

Gay sex isn’t even the only thing on the docket to be punished with much harsher sentences. Adulterers will be treated in the same way, and people caught stealing could face amputation in a brutal new punishment.

Human rights groups were horrified by the new law.

“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,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei Researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

According to Bloomberg, Chhoa-Howard was horrified that most of the punishments applied to “crimes” that “should not even be deemed crimes at all.”

The timing of the introduction of stricter laws on gay sex and adultery is probably not coincidental. In 2014, around the same time it was announced that there would be harsher penalties for intimate gay relationships and adultery, Brunei also became the first country in the region to adopt sharia law, which CNN describes as an “Islamic legal system which outlines strict corporal punishments.”

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Along with the adoption of sharia law, Bolkiah felt that changes needed to be made to the country’s legal system in order to respect sharia law, regardless of what others may think of it.

At the time, he said his “government does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but that it would suffice if they just respect the nation in the same way that it also respects them.”

The first step in the new legislation was making pregnancy out of wedlock a crime, and issuing jail time or fines as punishment for people who failed to pray on Friday. Despite these strict laws, Bloomberg reports that Bolkiah does not face vocal opposition to his increasingly strict policies from within the country.

Given that he has full executive authority in the country, and the fact that he’s clearly not got a problem with corporal punishment, this really shouldn’t be all that surprising. Without a serious uprising carried out by thousands, it’s doesn’t seem likely anyone would bother standing up to his increasingly archaic policies.