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From today the gay community in the country of Brunei could face the death penalty, despite calls from the international community to reverse the decision.
Under a raft of new laws, those convicted of having gay sex could be stoned to death, while thieves in the small state could have their limbs cut off.
Many have condemned the draconian measures which they say will see innocent people killed.
Phil Robertson is the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. He said: "This kind of law doesn't belong in the 21st century. It's going to be something that will turn Brunei into a human rights pariah."
When the punishments were announced, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei Researcher at Amnesty International, demanded they be repealed, saying: "As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion, and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls."
And earlier this week singer Elton John backed George Clooney's plan to boycott hotels owned by the country's leader, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
In a tweet, the pop icon said: "I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect - as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world.
"I commend my friend, #GeorgeClooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of #Brunei - a place where gay people are brutalized, or worse - by boycotting the Sultan's hotels."
Despite the criticism, Sultan Bolkiah has pledged to promote the teachings of Islam.
In a statement released ahead of the changes, Sultan Bolkiah defended his position, saying: "Brunei Darussalam is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws. Brunei Darussalam has always been practising a dual legal system, one that is based on the Syariah Law and the other on Common Law.
"The Syariah Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, it also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race."
Brunei is the first east or southeast Asian country to implement sharia penal code at the national level.
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