UN rights chief condemns ‘inhuman’ Brunei anti-gay law

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on September 3, 2018 in Geneva.

The UN’s human rights chief has spoken out against the new “cruel and inhuman” anti-gay law in Brunei.

United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, hit out at the Southeast Asian country’s new laws making gay sex punishable by death by stoning.

Brunei has faced a wave of boycotts over the recent implementation of the brutal new Sharia law-based penal code, which was first announced in 2014 but will be fully implemented this month.

In a statement on Monday (April 1), the UN rights chief condemned the “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments” in the new penal code.

UN high commissioner condemns ‘draconian’ Brunei anti-gay law

High commissioner Michelle Bachelet said: “I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented.”

She added that the death penalty “is disproportionately applied against people who are already vulnerable.”

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has condemned the Brunei anti-gay law

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty)

Bachelet continued: “Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers.

“Human rights and faith are not opposing forces – indeed, it is human interpretation that creates tensions. It is vital that the Government, religious authorities and a wide range of civil society actors work jointly to uphold human dignity and equality for all.”

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, but was previously punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Brunei has defended harsh new anti-gay law

The office of Brunei’s Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah put out a statement defending the law amid international outcry on March 30.

The statement defended the country’s right as a “sovereign Islamic and fully independent country” to “enforce its own rule of laws…like all other independent countries.”

The statement claimed that its laws help to “maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith.”

It added: “The [Sharia] Law, apart from criminalising and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.”

George Clooney led Brunei boycott calls

Actor George Clooney penned an op-ed for Deadline last week in which he said that he would be boycotting the country’s chain of luxury hotels—and called on others to do the same.

He wrote: “Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.

“Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”