Sultan halts gay sex death penalty plans

Sultan halts gay sex death penalty plans

Sultan halts gay sex death penalty plans

Brunei will not enforce the death penalty for those convicted of having gay sex following global backlash against the country led by worldwide human rights groups and celebrities.

In a speech late on Sunday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said a moratorium on capital punishment that already applies to Brunei's regular criminal code would also extend to its new sharia code, which includes death by stoning for various crimes.

In case you didn't know, the oil-rich state has been rolling out Shariah law in phases ever since it was first adopted in 2014.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said Sunday in a speech to mark the start of Ramadan that he was aware of the "many questions and misperceptions" over the penalties provided for under new sections of Brunei's Shariah Penal Code, but stressed that there should be no fear.

As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law.

"This will also be applied to cases under the [Islamic penal code], which provides a wider scope for remission".

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Some crimes in Brunei including murder and drug-trafficking were already punishable with death by hanging under the regular criminal code - which is enforced alongside the Shariah code - but no one has been executed for decades. But the country has not carried out any executions since the 1990s.

Another thing that's unusual about this whole thing is that the sultan's office released an official English translation of his speech - again, not a common practice.

The maximum punishment for gay sex between men under the sharia code is death by stoning, but perpetrators can also be sentenced to lengthy jail terms or caning.

"I appeal to the government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented", said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet ahead of the laws taking effect.

Several travel companies also stopped promoting Brunei as a tourist destination after the death penalty for gay sex was announced. Adding, "They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals".

The controversial measures, which the United Nations condemned as "cruel and inhuman", prompted celebrities and rights groups to seek a boycott on hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

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