New sharia laws in Brunei include death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.
Experts say the harsh punishment is unlikely to be implemented due to the high bar of proof.
Harsh new sharia laws - including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery - entered into force in Brunei on Wednesday.
The expanded list of crimes punishable by death in the small sultanate on
the Southeast Asian island of Borneo also includes rape, robbery and
insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
The laws, which also call for the amputation of limbs for thieves, make Brunei the first country in East
or Southeast Asia to implement the harsh Islamic legal code at the
Sharia is practiced to varying degrees in some countries
in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
Experts say the draconian death by stoning laws for sex between men and adultery, which
can also be punished by caning, are unlikely to be carried out due to
the high bar of proof.
Brunei has not executed anyone for decades.
The previous law called for a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison for gay sex.
Under the new law, women convicted of having sexual relations with other women could face caning or
a maximum 10-year prison term.
Tomorrow, the country of #Brunei will start stoning gay people to death.
We need to do something now.
Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
Raise your voices now.
Spread the word.
Rise up. pic.twitter.com/24KJsemPGH
- Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 2, 2019
There has been international condemnation of the legal revisions pushed by Sultan
Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world's richest men who has wielded power
in the tiny tropical nation for nearly five decades.
Germany, France and the United States have condemned the new laws as incompatible
with Brunei's human rights commitments and called for the sultan to
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the code was "barbaric to the core, imposing
archaic punishments for acts that shouldn't even be crimes."
Celebrities including actor George Clooney, pop star Elton John and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres
have led calls for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels.
'Fair and happy' country
In a public address to the nation to mark a date on the Islamic calendar, the sultan on
Wednesday said he wanted Islamic practices in the country to become
"I would like to emphasize that the country of Brunei is a... country that always
devotes its worship to Allah," he said.
He also said he wanted the call to prayer in all public places, not just
in mosques, to remind the country of 400,000 people of their Islamic
He went on to call Brunei a "fair and happy" country.
"Anyone who comes to visit this country will have a sweet experience,
and enjoy the safe and harmonious environment," he said.