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Brunei to make Homosexuality a crime punishable by Death.

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The tiny sultanate of Brunei become the first country in Southeast Asia to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death.

The change is part of a nationwide implementation of the Sharia law that was first announced in 2014. At the time, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said: “The decision to implement the (penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah’s command as written in the Quran.”

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Originally the Sultan, who is also Brunei’s prime minister, declared that the legal changes would be gradually implemented in three phases. Under the first phase of the law that was implemented on May 2014, individuals who have committed the “crime” of having a child out of wedlock, failing to attend Friday prayer, and are seen to be promoting any form of belief other than Islam, will be subjected to an Islamic court and could face imprisonment or fines.

Brunei was supposed to implement the second phase, that includes whipping and mutilations for Muslims found guilty of alcohol consumption and theft, in 2015, and the final phase in 2016. However, following massive global backlash to the decision, Sultan Bolkiah decided to delay the implementation of the remaining two phases.

Now, five years later, the sultanate plans to proceed with the violent changes. Beginning April 3, those found guilty of same-sex relations, adultery, sodomy, rape, and blasphemy, will be whipped and stoned to death. Out of Brunei’s total population of 400,000, 67 percent are Muslim and therefore subject to the Sharia law. But since the first phase of Sharia law applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims, it looks like no one will be exempt from the rule.

The news has been condemned around the world, as it will be a major violation of international human rights. Brunei has signed the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but it was never ratified. This may be a platform used by activists to get the international community to address the matter.

According to Matthew Woolfe, founder of the human rights group The Brunei Project, the government did not make any public announcements regarding the change and it only came to light this week. With limited time left before the full implementation, efforts to rally support from the public will be a challenge.

“We are trying to get pressure placed on the government of Brunei but realise there is a very short time frame until the laws take effect,” Woolfe told Reuters. “It took us by surprise that the government has now given a date and is rushing through implementation.”

Recently, Indonesia has also come under scrutiny for the cruel treatment of its LGBTQ members. Its province of Aceh is the only place in the country that can legally enforce Sharia law, and on multiple accounts, it has been used to publicly cane gay men in front of cheering crowds. Members of the LGBTQ community were also arrested in a series of raids including nightlife spots, hotels and private residences.

Since then,human rights activists are now clamoring for support to halt Brunei from finalising the decision.

Correction 3/28: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Brunei is the first country in Asia to punish homosexuality with death penalty. We regret this mistake.

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Live Updates COVID-19 CASES
  • World 19,703,085
    World
    Confirmed: 19,703,085
    Active: 6,332,550
    Recovered: 12,643,510
    Death: 727,025
  • USA 5,120,955
    USA
    Confirmed: 5,120,955
    Active: 2,336,231
    Recovered: 2,620,147
    Death: 164,577
  • South Africa 545,476
    South Africa
    Confirmed: 545,476
    Active: 140,808
    Recovered: 394,759
    Death: 9,909
  • Nigeria 45,687
    Nigeria
    Confirmed: 45,687
    Active: 12,114
    Recovered: 32,637
    Death: 936
  • Kenya 25,837
    Kenya
    Confirmed: 25,837
    Active: 13,520
    Recovered: 11,899
    Death: 418
  • Australia 20,698
    Australia
    Confirmed: 20,698
    Active: 9,100
    Recovered: 11,320
    Death: 278
  • South Sudan 2,463
    South Sudan
    Confirmed: 2,463
    Active: 1,241
    Recovered: 1,175
    Death: 47
  • Uganda 1,267
    Uganda
    Confirmed: 1,267
    Active: 146
    Recovered: 1,115
    Death: 6
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