United Kingdom calls Brunei's anti-gay law 'backward step'

United Kingdom calls Brunei's anti-gay law 'backward step'

Singapore -New Islamic criminal laws took effect in Brunei on Wednesday that make gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning offenders to death.

An honorary degree awarded to the Sultan of Brunei by Aberdeen University is now under review after his country plans to implement a law which sees gay sex punishable by death.

The nation, home to around 40,000 people, already prohibits homosexuality and penalises those found guilty of it with up to 10 years in prison.

Mark Field, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, made a statement to the Commons this morning outlining the Government's position to the strict new Islamic laws.

The new penal code has been globally condemned by LGBT rights groups and world leaders, as well as celebrities, many of whom have urged people to boycott the sultan's top luxury hotels.

"Given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia, the myID (staff travel) agreement between Virgin Australia and Royal Brunei has now been terminated effective immediately", the email said.

However, Shani thinks it is unlikely authorities will "bother" trying to catch anyone now laws have been tightened as the burden of proof is high.

It's all covered under the new Brunei Sharia Penal Code.

The Brunei Investment Agency, which owns the Dorchester Collection of hotels, today said it does "not tolerate any form of discrimination".

Leanne MacMillan, director of global campaigns at the LGBT charity Stonewall, said: "We continue to be extremely concerned by what's happening in Brunei".

Transgender woman Zoella Zayce fled her native Brunei a year ago as the country shifted towards hardline Islam, and thinks more of the LGBT community will follow after the death penalty for gay sex was introduced.

Fewer than 500,000 people live in the oil- and gas-rich nation, and the majority are Muslim, though the country also has sizable Christian and Buddhist minorities.

"The Commonwealth Secretariat is ready and willing to provide Brunei Darussalam with technical assistance and to advise on the formulation of a revised Penal Code in accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter and in compliance with worldwide human rights law and obligations including on the issue of harmonisation".

Guterres "believes that human rights are to be upheld in relations to every person everywhere without any kind of discrimination", said United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

They are particularly concerned "that the penal code applies to all those who board a Brunei-registered aircraft even when in Australia". "We will continue to advocate for human rights in the region and beyond", she tweeted.

He went on to call Brunei a "fair and happy" country.

Set up by the world's first openly queer imam Muhsin Hendricks, the Compassion-Centreed Islam network slammed the "draconian new penal code based on defunct sharia law that does not uphold the Quranic values of mercy and compassion" and appealed to the sultan to stop the perpetuation of negative stereotyping of Muslims.

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