UN slams Brunei's anti-gay law as violation of rights

UN slams Brunei's anti-gay law as a clear violation of human rights
2 min read
03 April, 2019
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has criticised Brunei's new anti-gay law and says he stands with people to "love who they want to love."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slams Brunei's new laws as a cruel punishment [AFP/Getty]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday criticised Brunei's implementation of new Islamic sharia laws as a clear violation of human rights.

The tough penal code in the tiny country on tropical Borneo island - ruled by the all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - fully came into force following years of delays. The new penal code prescribes death by stoning for adultery and gay sex.

Guterres "believes that human rights are to be upheld in relations to every person everywhere without any kind of discrimination," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"The legislation approved is in clear violation with the principles expressed."

The criminal law took effect on Wednesday despite a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups.

The UN chief "stands clearly against any form of cruel punishment," said Dujarric.

"He stands very much for the protection of rights of all people to be able to be with who they want to be and love who they want to love."

George Clooney's call to boycott nine hotels owned by Brunei in Europe and the United States, followed by Elton John on Monday, has catapulted the issue into the international headlines.

The new code stipulates death by stoning as a punishment for sex between men, while women convicted of having sexual relations with other women face up to 40 strokes of the cane or a maximum 10-year jail term.

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei but has now become a capital offence. The law only applies to Muslims.

Brunei is an absolute monarchy which has been ruled for 51 years by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Bolkiah - who is one of the world's wealthiest men and lives in a vast, golden-domed palace - announced plans for the code in 2013.

The first section was introduced in 2014 and included less stringent penalties, such as fines or jail terms for offences including indecent behaviour or skipping Friday prayers.

The laws, which also include amputation of hands and feet for stealing, make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level, joining several mostly Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.

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