UN Human Rights Chief Michele Bachelet warned Brunei that implementing a punishment of death by stoning for gay sex would “deal a serious setback to human rights.”
The revisions to Brunei’s law are set to go into force on Wednesday, April 3.
They “stipulate the death penalty for offences such as rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, robbery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammad, among others,” according to the UN. “It introduces public flogging as a punishment for abortion, and amputation for theft. It also criminalises exposing Muslim children to the beliefs and practices of any religion other than Islam.”
Said Bachelet in a statement: “I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented. In reality, no judiciary in the world can claim to be mistake-free, and evidence shows that the death penalty is disproportionately applied against people who are already vulnerable, with a high risk of miscarriages of justice.”
“I urge Brunei to maintain its de facto moratorium on the use of capital punishment,” Bachelet added. “Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers. Human rights and faith are not opposing forces – indeed, it is human interpretation that creates tensions.”
She continued: “It is vital that the Government, religious authorities and a wide range of civil society actors work jointly to uphold human dignity and equality for all. My Office stands ready to assist the Government of Brunei, using the constructive approach laid out by the faith-based framework of the Beirut Declaration on ‘Faith for Rights.'”
Brunei defended its laws on Saturday, Reuters reports: ‘The Brunei prime minister’s office said on Saturday that elements of the laws had been rolled out in phases since 2014 and would be fully implemented this week, aiming to “educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race”.’
Brunei’s new laws have prompted calls from actor George Clooney for a boycott of the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel group owned by the Brunei government.
Rock icon Elton John joined Clooney’s calls for a boycott on Sunday, tweeting: “Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay. We must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable. That’s why David and I have long refused to stay at these hotels and will continue to do so. We hope you will join us in solidarity.”