One Step Back: Brunei Enacting Law Against LGBT

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Brunei LGBT situation

As other countries take a step forward by defending and upholding the rights of our sisters and brothers from the LGBT community, Brunei takes a step back and decides it’s “okay to whip them in public or to throw stones at them until they die.”

The Brunei government is enacting a strict Sharia penal code that’s, not only barbaric but is also violating multiple human rights liberties. The said law was reportedly first published in 2013 but was further delayed due to an international outcry. However, the law will finally implement phase 2 and 3, which are the most controversial sections of the law, on April 3.

Once implemented, men who are proven to be gay or have intimate relations with the same sex are punishable by stoning to death while lesbian sex is punishable by 100 whips.

The small Islam-dominant kingdom is the first country in the east or southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level. Other countries like Saudi Arabia and some Middle Eastern countries also follow sharia law.

The law also introduces harsh penalties such as amputation of limbs for stealing, and imprisonment for dressing as someone of a different gender.

Overall, the sharia law requires death by stoning for extramarital sex, anal sex, and abortion; and penalizes thieves by amputation of the right hand for the first offense and a left foot for the second. Children who have reached puberty and are convicted of these offenses can receive the same punishments as adults; certain younger children may be subjected to whipping. All of which adheres to extremist Islamic beliefs.

“Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Sultan Hassanal should immediately suspend amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments” The Human Rights Watch reports.

However, current Sultan and acting Prime minister Hassanal Bolkiah said in a statement that Brunei is “a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of law.”

Moreover, the government’s website quoted him as saying that 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 LGBT Community

The most vulnerable sector of society in Brunei is the small LGBT community that decides to live in the country. Prior to the draconian sharia penal code, members of the community are already repressed by laws that prohibited homosexuality which is punishable up to 10 years in prison.

A report from the Guardian says that living as a gay person in Brunei meant living in a ‘pink bubble,’ you can still act and look gay but should not “rock the boat, have parades and announce [their] sexuality.”

Grindr, the gay meeting application, allowed gay men to meet each other in secret from the looming government that tries to remove them from society.

Imagine trying to live a life that you are not. Forced to function in a society where its norms are limited to that of a woman’s or a man’s; a black and white perspective into how a person should act and look. It’s an outright invalidation of your personality and blatant disrespect to one’s human rights.

Upon the approach of April 3, fear looms over the LGBT community as not only their freedom is at stake but also their lives. The pink bubble has popped.

Not even Grindr can provide a safe haven; as police officials may also be using the application to track down gay men, a report says.

But Brunei is not only hostile towards the LGBT community as women are also very vulnerable. In the new sharia law, women who have abortions can be imprisoned, having children out of wedlock are imprisoned, and even extramarital sex.

Women will be forced to live within the confines of appeasing a man she marries. It’s not a likely living situation that hinders a woman from developing her own sexual interests.

The world cries shame on the law that prohibits both men and women from living their true selves.

Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, George Clooney, and Elton John have announced their strong condemnation of such laws and has instigated a campaign from boycotting business the Sultan is involved.

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