New National Law that makes gay sex and adultery punishable by Stoning to Death

Brunei is putting into strict action new Islamic laws that make gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death, despite fierce global condemnation.

The Muslim-majority kingdom in 2014 became the first East Asian country to introduce Sharia law at a national level. The government introduced the legislation and associated penalties in stages, with the new measures set to begin Wednesday, April 3.Under stages two and three of the penal code, sex between two men and adultery both carry a punishment of stoning to death, while sex between two women is punishable with 100 lashes.

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

Brunei, an oil-rich former British protectorate with a population of around 450,000, is ruled by the all powerful Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who also acts as prime minister.Its decision to implement the penalties has sparked an international outcry from governments, rights groups, the UN and numerous celebrities.

In a statement Wednesday, Human Rights Watch described the new penal code as “barbaric to the core” and urged the sultan to “immediately suspend amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments.”The 72-year-old sultan is believed to be among the region’s richest people, thanks to Brunei’s oil industry.

In announcing the introduction of the new laws, 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 US State Department joined the criticism, saying the laws run counter to Brunei’s international human rights obligations, “including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

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