If you think that the world has progressed since we are now in the 21st century, you are probably wrong. Human rights activists slammed the Sultanate of Brunei for its announcement that they will start imposing the death penalty to members of the LGBT community.
The said law, which imposes ‘death by stoning’ to those who will be found guilty of same-sex relations among other crimes that violate the Sharia law, will take effect next week, April 3. Come to its effectivity, Brunei becomes the first Asian country to criminalize homosexuality and impose the death penalty on it.
Criminalization of homosexuality is part of the national implementation of the Sharia law that the Sultanate 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 Qur’an.”
Brunei’s Sultan, who is also the country’s prime minister, previously announced that the changes in their legal system in accordance with the Sharia law would be gradually implemented in three phases. The first phase of the law criminalized and punished people for having children out of wedlock, failing to attend Friday prayer, and being seen to be promoting any form of belief other than Islam. Those who violated these rules, that were implemented in May 2014, were subjected to an Islamic court and could face imprisonment or fines.
While Sultan Bolkiah successfully implemented the first phase of the said legal changes, the second phase was postponed following the global backlash it received from the international community. The second phase was supposed to criminalize Muslims found guilty of alcohol consumption and theft in 2015. If the second phase were successfully implemented, a final stage would have been implemented in 2016.
Five years following the implementation of the first phase of Bolkiah’s legal restructuring, he and the Sultanate of Brunei plans to proceed with their plans to proceed with second and third phases. The new Sharia-based legislation will criminalize acts like same-sex relations, adultery, sodomy, rape, and blasphemy and those who will be found guilty will be whipped and stoned to death. Currently, being gay is punishable by ten years in prison in Brunei.
Brunei has a total population of 400,000 with which 67% are Muslims who are therefore subjected to the Sharia Law. However, since the first phase of Sharia law applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims, it looks like no one will be exempt from the violent ruling.
Human rights advocates have condemned the new law and said that it violates major international treaties on human rights that the country was a signatory of. Brunei has signed the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but the Sultanate never ratified it.
Matthew Woolfe, the founder of the human rights group The Brunei Project, said that the Sultanate did not make any public announcement pertaining to the new legislation that it plans to implement. Woolfe noted that it had only been known this week. This gives human rights advocates and external forces little time to challenge the said law.
“We are trying to get pressure placed on the government of Brunei but realize there is a very short time frame until the laws take effect,” Woolfe said. “It took us by surprise that the government has now given a date and is rushing through implementation.”
Meanwhile, netizens on Twitter expressed their concern over the violent and ‘inhumane’ law that the Sultanate of Brunei is trying to implement. Some people have raised how “horrible the world we live in” is.
A Twitter user, conspiring that some members of the royal family are gay, asks what will happen to them and if they will also be stoned to death as well.
“Would love to see the Sultan metes out such punishments to members of the royal household first.”
Another raised the concern of how would the government impose the law and asked if they are planning to install cameras in every home to catch homosexual acts. Another replied with:
“Probably unnecessary. Sattelite or cable connections are probably already in most households. Big brother is bigger than most imagine.”
Many of the netizens have called the law “unacceptable,” “disgrace to human life,” and “barbaric.” One Twitter user said that it is a medieval barbaric religious intolerance.”
“If the law is wrong, then it’s acceptable to bow down to it despite the hatred, discrimination, and murder it causes? Thank goodness not everyone is blinded by medieval barbaric religious intolerance in the world. Barbarism like this has no place in a modern world,” Mick Saunders wrote on Twitter.