Brunei’s homosexuality laws now include stoning gay people to death, a move that has sparked international condemnation.
The new measures will be applied to the country starting Wednesday, and include a number of other crimes that will be punished via amputation or stoning. The country’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said on Wednesday in a public address, “I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger.”
Homosexuality was already illegal in the country and was punishable by 10 years in jail. The new laws make people who confess or are seen by 4 witnesses punishable by stoning as well. A Bruneian gay man told BBC, “You wake up and realise that your neighbours, your family or even that nice old lady that sells prawn fritters by the side of the road doesn’t think you’re human, or is okay with stoning.”
A number of Hollywood celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney have raised their voice against the issue and called for people to boycott the hotels owned by the Sultan in various locations around the world, including LA’s Beverly Hills Hotel and London’s Dorchester.
Brunei first introduced Sharia law in the country in 2014 despite a large outcry against the enactment, with the Sultan saying a new penal code would be enacted over the years as time went on. The first phase included punishments like sentences and fines, and the second two phases cover amputation and stoning. The UN called the legislation “cruel, inhuman and degrading”, saying it marked a “serious setback” for international human rights.
Two-thirds of Brunei’s population of 420,000 are Muslims.