US: 119 members of Congress want Brunei trade deal called off over ‘stone the gays’ law

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Over a hundred members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter urging the government to call off a trade deal with Brunei over its new anti-gay law.

In April the Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah gave approval to Brunei’s revised penal code, which urges death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed trade agreement that the US has been working to secure, which would involve Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

However, an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the deal be scrapped or postponed until Brunei reforms its homophobic laws.

It reads: “We urge you to insist that Brunei address these human rights violations as a condition of the United States participating with them in any further Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations.

“Brunei’s adoption of the revised penal code legalizes violence against its citizens, constituting torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

“The United States must make it clear that we will not tolerate such abuses. International trade partners have much to gain from an economic relationship with the United States, and our trade agreements should insist that participating countries adhere to internationally recognized civil, political, and human rights standards.

“Targeting LGBT individuals or religious minorities and opening the door for discrimination and violence against women is a threat we cannot overlook, and should trade agreements like the TPP go into effect with the participation of human rights violators, the United States would lose its leverage to provide economic pressure on countries to reverse unacceptable policies.”

The majority of the 119 signatories – which include Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Henry Waxman (D-CA) – are Democrats, though some Republicans have signed.