Post submitted by Noah Montague, HRC Global Engagement Intern
The country of Brunei has recently announced an update to its penal code that would call for death by stoning for individuals who engage in same-sex sexual activity. While these actions were previously criminalized in Brunei, enforcing the death penalty for same-sex acts marks a serious threat for the LGBT community in Brunei and a devastating step backwards for the status of human rights in the country.
Brunei’s decision to implement the death penalty was denounced by the United Nations for the inhumane addition to its penal code and the increased discrimination and intolerance it will create for the LGBT community. According to UN spokesman Rupert Colville from the office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, “Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited.”
This decision comes in the wake of a string of LGBT legislation passed in recent months. In 2013 Russia passed an “anti-propaganda” law which made it illegal for anyone to take acts that could be seen as influencing children on thoughts of “alternative sexual lifestyles,” targeted mainly at the LGBT community. Additionally, two countries in Africa, Uganda and Nigeria have taken extreme measures in passing legislation that further criminalized homosexuality in already hostile environments.
Although Brunei has not carried out any executions since 1957, the update to the penal code is expected to begin on April 22. With this change, Brunei will place love between same-sex individuals on par with offenses such as robbery and rape. Out of more than 80 countries that in some way criminalize same-sex sexual activity, the addition of a death sentence in Brunei will add it to the ill-reputed list of 7 other countries including, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Yemen, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria and Somalia where homosexuality is punishable by death.