Brunei Imposes Stern New Penal Code, Stoning for Adultery, Gay Sex

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Brunei on Wednesday introduced harsh new shariah laws, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, despite a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups.

The tough sharia penal code in the tiny south-east Asian country - ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - came into force this week following years of delays.

'Now those who oppress us have more opportunity to say and do what they want.' Homosexuality was already illegal and punishable by up to ten years in jail.

Brunei's LGBT community has expressed fear at the prospect of living under the Islamic law.

"If implemented in its current form (the code) would enshrine in legislation cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach worldwide human rights law - including death by stoning", she said in a statement.

Hollywood actor George Clooney was among the celebrities calling for a boycott of the luxury hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is headed by the country's 72-year-old sultan.

The Sultan of Brunei's honorary doctorate from King's College London (KCL) could be rescinded, after his country made gay sex punishable by stoning to death.

Adulterers risk death by stoning as well, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offence and a left foot on their second.

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The sultan is due to attend a public event Wednesday, and may make an announcement related to the implementation of the laws. However, the law will finally implement phase 2 and 3, which are the most controversial sections of the law, on April 3.

Celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres have voiced opposition to the new laws in Brunei, and have rallied a boycott of nine hotels in the USA and Europe with ties to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

A DFAT spokesman said it had updated its travel advice and took safety concerns of all travellers "very seriously".

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnès von der Mühll said: "France calls on Brunei to abandon this project and to maintain the moratorium on capital punishment in place since 1957".

The UN's human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned on Monday that the revised penal code would enshrine serious breaches of worldwide human rights law into law. In fully implementing the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO) 2013 from 3rd April 2019, both systems will continue to run in parallel to maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith.

Almost two-thirds of Malaysia's 32 million people are Muslim.

Australian Senator Penny Wog claimed Brunei's penal code would be in breach of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Brunei's decision is barbaric and the United Kingdom stands with the LGBT community and those who defend their rights.

"This news is deeply shocking, and I am backing calls to remove the Sultan of Brunei's honorary degree". An ex-government employee from Brunei, who left the nation a year ago after being charged with sedition for a Facebook post that was critical of the government, said people were "afraid".

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