Leader Of Brunei Delays Introduction Of Death Penalty For Homosexuals
The leader of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, has announced the country will delay the introduction of the death penalty for homosexuality.
This follows an international backlash, with celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John boycotting hotels owned by the Sultan.
Sultan Bolkiah confirmed the move in a speech today ahead of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
He said: "I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO. However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.
"As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of the death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission."
He added: "Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country.
"They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals."
Under the proposed changes, those convicted of having gay sex could be stoned to death, while thieves in the small state could have their limbs cut off.
However, the new laws received a backlash from the international community, with many condemning the proposals.
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, said: "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."
A host of celebrities then came out and criticised the Brunei leader.
Elton John backed the campaign to boycott hotels owned by the country's leader.
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 brutalised, or worse - by boycotting the Sultan's hotels."
Featured Image Credit: PA