Brunei jets ban sought over gay death law

Brunei jets ban sought over gay death law

A draconian death penalty policy that targets homosexual acts and adultery has been implemented in Brunei as the tiny sultanate's revised Islamic penal code comes into force despite an global outcry.

"I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger", said the sultan during a press conference as reported by AFP.

Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to ten years.

Brunei's government showed no sign of stopping the law or bending to growing worldwide condemnation a press release published on Saturday.

Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by The Brunei Investment Company, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London and the Plaza Athenee in Paris.

The German president's office said that orders awarded during state visits can not be revoked, but stressed President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's rejection of the death penalty and stance that threatening gay people with "cruel punishments" violates elementary human rights.

Overall, the sharia law requires death by stoning for extramarital sex, anal sex, and abortion; and penalizes thieves by amputation of the right hand for the first offense and a left foot for the second.

Plans to implement sharia law were announced in 2013 and the first phase, with less stringent punishments, came into effect the following year, before the entire penal code was implemented this week.

A separate agreement that allows Royal Brunei to sell seats available on Virgin Australia flights within Australia remains in place, a Virgin spokesperson said.

"Like many Australians we find these new measures to be extremely confronting and we share the concerns of those organisations that have contacted us over the matter", Melbourne Airport chief executive Lyell Strambi said.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said via his spokesman that human rights should be upheld everywhere, and Brunei´s new legislation "is in clear violation with the principles expressed".

Brunei, an oil-rich former British protectorate with a population of around 450,000, is ruled by the all powerful Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who also acts as prime minister. This sentence now also applies to those who commit rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sex and for insulting the Prophet Muhammed.

Zulhelmi bin Mohamad, a transgender woman who fled Brunei past year and is seeking asylum in Canada, told AFP that the environment will be more terrifying for the country´s LGBT community, who were already leading "very secretive" lives.

But on Saturday, the government released a statement on its website saying the Sharia penal code would be fully implemented on Wednesday.

Another male Bruneian, who is not gay but has renounced Islam, said he felt "fearful and numb" in the face of the laws being implemented.

Gay rights are human rights.

Local news reports say the hotel has lost millions of dollars in business as a result of the long-running unofficial boycott.

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