Saturday 25 May 2019

Sultan halts gay sex death penalty plans

Brunei

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Photo: Reuters/David Gray/File Photo
Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Photo: Reuters/David Gray/File Photo

Joe Brock

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has halted plans to impose the death penalty for gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The small Southeast Asian country sparked an outcry when it rolled out its interpretation of Islamic laws, or sharia, on April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning.

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then.

However, in a rare response to criticism aimed at the oil-rich state, the sultan said the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order.

However, he described the change as merely a moratorium on implementing the sentence, meaning it will remain in the legislation and a lesser penalty will still apply to those convicted.

The law's implementation, which the United Nations condemned, 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.

Irish Independent

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