WASHINGTON —— The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) condemns the April 30 decision by the government of Brunei to allow a series of draconian penal code reforms to take effect that will soon include stoning as a possible punishment for engaging in same-sex activity.
"LGBT citizens in many countries around the world remain persistent targets of harassment, arrest, violence, and torture for simply being who they are," said Ty Cobb, director of Global Engagement at the Human Rights Campaign. "The decision by the government of Brunei to soon become the 8th nation to allow the death penalty against LGBT people is horrific and sickening."
In October 2013, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah——who is the absolute ruler of Brunei and is considered one of the world's wealthiest people——announced that he was amending the nation's criminal laws and introducing amputation, flogging, and stoning as possible punishments for a variety of so-called offenses.
These changes were scheduled to be implemented in three phases beginning on April 22, but were temporarily put on hold by the government of Brunei earlier this month. But according to a royal degree issued today, the first of three phases of implementation will now begin tomorrow. The second phase, which will allow amputation as a possible punishment for some crimes will take effect later this year, and the third phase, which will allow stoning as a possible punishment for same-sex activity, will begin in 2015.
In April, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned the penal code reforms, saying it was "deeply concerned" and that stoning was considered to be "torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" under international law.
Wikipedia notes Brunei "is a sovereign state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, it is completely surrounded by the state of Sarawak, Malaysia; and it is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. It is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island's territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia."