Brunei Won’t Enforce Death Penalty For Gay Sex

Filed Under: Travel

I wrote about this a bit over a month ago, and now I think it’s only fair to provide a (positive) update.

In 2014 the small, oil-rich country of Brunei introduced sharia law, and they’ve been progressively rolling out more laws ever since.

The latest controversy came in early April, as adultery and gay sex became punishable by being stoned to death. So while we’ve known this was coming since 2014, the implementation was only supposed to start as of last month.

This caused widespread international boycotts, both of the country, and also of the Dorchester Collection, which the sultan owns.

While I think the boycott was the right idea, to be honest I thought it was a near sure bet that it wouldn’t have any impact, given just how rich the sultan is. But it seems to have worked, at least somewhat. Today Brunei’s sultan has announced that the country won’t be punishing gay sex and adultery with death after all:

“I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the [law]. 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 death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the [law] which provides a wider scope for remission.”

This isn’t exactly much of an admission of wrongdoing (according to the sultan the problem is our misconceptions!), though it’s still better than nothing.

On the one hand, I’m pleasantly surprised that a boycott actually worked in some way in this case. On the other hand, obviously everyone is also saying “now do more.”

As the director of the HRC says:

“HRC notes reports that the Sultan of Brunei has declared a moratorium on the death penalty, and while this is an important step we continue to call on him to repeal this draconian law in its entirety and uphold all Brunei’s commitments under international law. The world has turned its eyes to Brunei in recent months and we urge the countless advocates, activists and organizations who seized this moment to speak out against these human rights abuses to continue to do so. The Trump-Pence administration has so far been silent and must finally join the chorus of voices calling for repeal.”

Comments
  1. A moratorium is essentially worthless. The Sultan could, arbitrarily and capriciously and without warning, lift that moratorium. A “de facto” moratorium is even less helpful, as there is no official declaration halting enforcement but rather just an “unofficial” practice.

    I’ll continue to boycott anything owned – even in part – by the Sultan, just as I boycott companies and countries which do not acknowledge that I should have the same civil rights as a heterosexual. I won’t fly any of the ME3 airlines for the same reason. I won’t chance being stuck in a country – even for a few hours on a layover – where their laws criminalize my very existence. There are plenty of countries that welcome gay Jews. But other than Israel, there aren’t any in the Middle East.

  2. You’re so quick, Lucky! I was going to write to you about this, but after doing some computer work, find you posted this while I was on the computer doing something else.

  3. Lucky,
    Please try not to divide things into positive and negative. That is just saying good or bad. And, if you mean that: good or bad, please say so. Otherwise you are only diluting your message.
    It is significantly less than “positive” to not stone people to death for being who they are. It can be a change or an improvement, a revision, a step back from the edge, or as stated, a moratorium.
    Frankly, I find it an extremely weak ‘positive’ step, what the Brit’s would describe as ‘better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.’
    Is that positive?
    By the way, you are hardly alone writing those terms, but I generally find your writing above that level.

  4. The controversial British comedian, Frankie Boyle proposed an alternative to the boycott of the Sultan’s hotels. Instead of boycotting them he suggested that you should go to to his hotels and have loads of gay sex

    Just thought I would say that, not trying to be funny and if I offend anybody I’m sorry but these are not my words.

  5. So instead you just spend life in a Brunei prison, or…? Not gay or adulterous here with no plans to ever go to Brunei, but if any of those circumstances change it would be good to know what the actual penalty would be.

  6. Sadly the law was not repealed … no telling what will happen outside of a larger city with less educated or less reasonable people …

  7. Once again I am forced to play devils advocate. The LGBT organization has become the willing stick of principally the democratic party and sometimes of US policy to beat up on other countries that we wish to punish for various reasons. As with all politics there are deep pockets involved.
    This does nothing to help gay communities in other countries where the low profile approach works best. Some inner soul searching might be in order.

  8. @Cassandra + 1.

    I don’t know if you were just rushing to get this out, or what, but this post is just really hollow. It lacks a compelling “now what” message for the reader. Approximately zero premium travel blog angle to this one. (And no, posting a link-back to an old article that references Brunei is not a solution).

    Wtf?!

  9. How this can be construed as a victory is quite mystifying: the law remains in place and can still be enforced at the whim and fancy of this nutter, in the event he changes what he’s pleased to call his mind. The boycott should remain in place; indeed should be extended to include Royal Brunei Airlines.

  10. No development is a victory unless it’s a total victory? Is this blog now visited by extremists?

    Of course this is a positive development. Having any punishment for being gay is not positive, but going from death penalty to not actually getting stoned IS a positive development.

  11. @JoeChivas.
    It’s literally the first thing that comes up when you type HRC into google. 4 keystrokes bro.

  12. The ones who made the laws are probably thinking oh damn I don’t want to get caught and then get executed leeeeeeet’s just loosen that law up a bit.

  13. @Paolo +1. So you only get life in prison instead of being whipped to death? This is supposed to be some kind of victory?

  14. Why only single Brunei out? There must be dozens of other countries in the world that have comparable laws in place.

  15. @John – Other countries have these antiquated laws from some prior century. Brunei is just creating the laws now.

  16. Well I think whoever designed that gaudy palace needs a death sentence. HELLO, TACKY! Holla!

  17. So they may not kill gay folks now only cane them until their bleeding?
    I wouldn’t trust this regime or any similar one as far as I could throw a stick
    Its like women who report rape in the Middle East can and do go to jail
    These are some of the most horrible governments in the world
    scary

  18. Far be it for me to lecture Lucky on LGBT rights, but I wonder if positive step is a bit premature. The Sultan of Brunei promulgates a law that not only criminalizes and marginalizes the LGBT community, but specifies a punishment among the most horrific ever devised by man. Then in the face of international pressure he expects to be called a humanitarian by imposing a moratorium on the death penalty. It would be farcical were it not disgusting. Without diminishing the danger faced by LGBT people in Brunei, I put to you that perhaps securing convictions and the penalties described was not the Sultan’s only aim. Rather, the statute was designed as an weapon of fear against the LGBT community–to suppress their voice, to prevent them from engaging with society, to intimidate and abuse them by threatening their lives with shocking brutality.

    The Sultan is not a legislator, a leader, or a humanitarian. He is a terrorist in the very definitional sense. He should be so treated by the international community.

  19. Any government deriving laws from any religious text is obviously defective.

    The world has moved on from needing to justify or condemn conflict via ancient texts written by people attempting to understand the world in which they found themselves and use as a basis for compliance.

  20. @Christian: Like it would matter. They have it since whatever or enact it now, it´s all because of the same nonsense which we dont want to mention because of hate speech I guess. Still, it´s utter nonsense, one way or another and I dont find Brunei any better or worse than let´s say Iran or Saudi Arabia or whatever other country.

  21. Um, OF COURSE they need to do more. Sure this is better than the alternative (the state murdering gay people for being gay) but are we really going to celebrate that they’ve decided okay fine they won’t murder them but they’re going to….do what with them instead? Accept them and allow them to live like everyone else? Until THAT is the policy they can and should do more.

  22. Americans are afforded freedom like nowhere else in the world.

    While President Trump was on the campaign trail in 2016 there were LGBTQ flags at one of his rallies.

    Vice President Pence appointed the US ambassador to Germany who is openly gay.

  23. This isn’t enough. From both Brunei and you, Ben.

    Brunei needs to not have such an antiquated law, and frankly, putting a moratorium isn’t the same as withdrawing a law. Don’t try to spin this as a positive.

  24. @Henry “HRC (here) is the Human Rights Campaign. Look it up.”

    The average reader shouldn’t have to look up or guess what an acronym means.

  25. lol, this is just ridiculous. yeah, let’s introduce the barbaric new law, but we won’t fully enforce it (or maybe we will, since we don’t provide any legal amendments or anything). what is the point of the introduction of this law, in the eyes of the Sultan? just for fun?
    I still think the law should be repealed, and the boycott of Brunei continued.

  26. I must also say that this is a huge issue in Russia – when they introduce new ridiculous and draconian laws (see recent laws basically prohibiting any criticism of the ruling elite), but don’t really enforce it. But one day they can – or they can enforce it “individually”, whenever someone crosses someone’s road. And that is plain scary.

  27. @Dom ”The average reader shouldn’t have to look up or guess what an acronym means.”

    So. If I read a blog about collecting and using airline miles I am expected to know about human rights acronyms???

  28. There is a big and wonderful world out there to explore…..none of us will see it all in a lifetime.

    I have a bucket list of must sees and also, a list of places I have NO desire to ever set foot in or support with my travel spend. (and that includes Dorchester properties). Bernei is on my never visit and the Sultan is a dangerous jerk. Anyplace embracing Sharia in 2019 should be shunned.

  29. @d3kingamerican. I believe in Europe several hundred million will disagree
    In fact in many US sates government upholds discrimination

  30. why is everyone kicking up a fuss over brunei? what about other countries in the middle east, which the author flies to, funding the awful human rights crises?qatar, uae, saudi arabia, they all treat gay people awfully, but he is quite happy to fund them. it makes me physically sick that he is so self-righteous. I hope he gets stranded there and then can see what his funding has caused. it’s disgusting.

    I won’t travel to any country that abuses its citizens human rights. including trumpistan.

  31. why is everyone kicking up a fuss over brunei? what about countries in the middle east, which you fly to, funding the awful human rights crises?qatar, uae, saudi arabia, they all treat ga y people awfully, but you are quite happy to fund them. it makes me physically sick that you are so self-righteous. I hope you get stranded there and then can see what your funding has caused. it’s disgusting.

    I won’t travel to any country that abuses its citizens human rights. including america, run by a despot

  32. Well, im still not flying Brunei, not visiting or otherwise help them in any way. I cant stand extremists like that.
    No way im visiting Brunei, no way i will fly Brunei and no way ill stay at that sultans hotels etc

  33. @D3KingAmerican Careful, saying anything positive about the Donald in most “liberal” (sic) places can get you Twittered to death.

    DJT is BFF with the Prime Minister of Israel, appoints a gay Ambassador to Germany and an ethnic Indian as Ambassador to the UN, lowers minority unemployment to historically low levels, brings back the manufacturing jobs that Obama famously said “those jobs are never coming back”, helps lift the Stock Market to all time highs…and some bigot on here calls the US “Trumpistan”.

    And clearly m747 has no idea what the word “despot” really means. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t mean someone who tweets a lot. “A person, especially a ruler, who has unlimited power over other people, and often uses it unfairly and cruelly”.

    Which is why Nancy Pelosi and HRC are imprisoned at Guantanamo, along with the CEOs and top reporters of major “liberal” (sic) media companies. Rank and file Democrats are being rounded up and placed in forced labor camps. Robert Mueller died mysteriously before he could get the Russia investigation even started. And US troops are standing shoulder to shoulder at the Southern border, shooting anyone who tries to cross it illegally.

    Oh, wait…..

  34. If you do not agree with the laws of a country, simply do not go. I do not agree with the laws of the Middle East countries; therefore, I will not go there. I will not even connect in one of those countries as appealing as traveling in one of their airlines might be (fifth freedom routes might be an exception). Never forget what happened to Samantha in Abu Dhabi. Just my very humble opinion.

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