WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization — responded to an alarming report that Brunei is set to implement barbaric punishments targeting LGBTQ people. According to the report, the second and third phases of a new Penal Code are both expected to be implemented on April 3, which could result in LGBTQ people being whipped, tortured or stoned to death for consensual same-sex relations.
“We are facing a dangerous crisis as Brunei is close to implementing laws that impose state-sponsored torture and murder of LGBTQ people,” said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. “It’s absolutely crucial that the international community speak out now and demand that the Sultan of Brunei stop these barbaric changes that threaten the lives of Brunei citizens. The Trump-Pence Administration must also immediately make clear that these outrageous human rights abuses will not be tolerated.”
Consenting same-sex relations are already punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years under Brunei’s existing Penal Code. If the next phases of the proposed Penal Code come into force, they would mandate penalties such as floggings and prison for those convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex relations. The third phase would include the possibility of death by stoning. This would make Brunei one of only a handful of countries in the world that impose the death penalty for consensual same-sex relations.
International pressure may have been a factor in dissuading the government from enacting the second phase when it was originally scheduled to be introduced in 2015.
A small country with half a million people, Brunei is a wealthy state with riches derived from oil production. LGBTQ life in Brunei is severely restricted due to constraints imposed by anti-LGBTQ religious and social views. Working with The Brunei Project and other human rights advocates, HRC has been monitoring LGBTQ human rights issues in the country since 2014.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.