Brunei is planning to introduce anti-LGBT laws within days that could see people whipped or stoned to death for same-sex activity, human rights groups have reported.
Homosexuality is already illegal in the east Asian country and punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.
But under the changes to Brunei’s penal code, punishments could include whipping and stoning to death for people found guilty of same-sex activity, adultery, and rape, according to human rights groups who have called for Brunei to abandon the changes.
The country first introduced Islamic criminal law in 2014 when it announced the first of three stages of legal reforms that included punishments for pregnancy outside of marriage.
Brunei held off introducing the death penalty for homosexuality due to a huge international backlash, but now the country is reportedly planning to rush through the changes within days.
Human rights group The Brunei Project said in a statement they had become aware that after the years of continually delaying the laws, the Brunei Government is now rushing through the final two phases of the Syariah Penal Code (SPC) concurrently, with the laws expected to take effect on April 3.
“While this means that the Government is breaking its promise to implement the laws in three distinct phases, with a grace period between each phase, what is even more alarming is the secrecy with which it is doing so,” the group said.
“At the time of writing this post, most people in Brunei remain unaware that the SPC is scheduled to be fully implemented in less than two weeks.
“Brunei will be implementing a number of extreme punishments, including for some ‘offences’ that should not even be considered crimes.
“Among the punishments will be the amputation of limbs for theft, the death penalty for apostasy, and a range of punishments for those found guilty of engaging in sexual activity with members of the same gender and adultery. These punishments include whippings, jail terms and death by stoning.”
Manila-based human rights group ASEAN SOGIE Caucus confirmed the changes were due to come into effect on April 3, according to government documents.
The Brunei Project pointed out that the country signed the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, although it has not yet been ratified.
“By implementing these laws, Brunei is clearly in violation of its obligations under the [Convention Against Torture],” the group wrote.
“The Brunei Project calls on the Brunei Government to stop being so secretive with the implementation of these laws and to be open and transparent with the Brunei people.”
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