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Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th and current Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Brunei. (Photo: imagemaker / Shutterstock.com)

Brunei to start punishing adultery and gay sex with death by stoning

Starting next week, adultery and gay sex in Brunei will be punishable by death via stoning. This is one of the many new controversial laws under the stricter Syariah law that was on hold for the past four years.

This latest hard-line move from the small nation in Borneo drew immediate reactions of shock and horror among rights groups. Brunei practices a stricter brand of Islam that Malaysia and Indonesia.

In Brunei, homosexuality is already illegal but with this, it now becomes a capital offence. As it is Syariah law, it only applies to Muslims.

This harsh new penal code which includes amputation of a hand and foot for theft will come into effect on Wednesday, 3 April 2019, according to a notice on Brunei’s Attorney General’s Chambers released in December last year.

Convicted thieves will have to face amputation of the right hand for a first offence and the left foot for the second offence.

Amnesty International has already voiced their concern over this move and urged Brunei to ‘immediately halt’ the implementation of these new penalties.

In a statement, Brunei researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said “To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself. Some of the potential ‘offences’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

These measures were first introduced in 2013 but implementation was delayed to iron out the practical details and in the face of strong opposition from rights groups.

Back in 2015, Brunei banned the excessive celebration of Christmas, for fear that Muslims would be led astray. Christians are allowed to only celebrate in the privacy of their own homes after first informing the authorities. Those caught celebrating Christmas would face a fine of $20,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.