Brunei defends death to gays law, claiming executions will be rare

Commonwealth: Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah

Brunei has issued a letter defending its new policy imposing the death penalty for gay sex, claiming executions will be rare.

The country issued a formal letter ahead of a European Union debate on whether the country’s harsh new penal code violates human rights standards.

Homosexuality was already illegal in the country, but the Sharia penal code introduces the death penalty for gay sex and adultery, while lesbian sex is punished with whipping.

Brunei: Death penalty will only apply to men who have sex with Muslims

However, in the April 15 letter, Brunei’s Mission to the European Union claims that “there appears to be a misconception” about the penal code.

The letter claims: “The criminalisation of adultery and sodomy is to safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage of individual Muslims, particularly women.

“The offences, therefore will not apply to non-Muslims unless the act of adultery or sodomy is committed with a Muslim.”

It adds that the death penalty has an “extremely high evidentiary threshold (…) to the extent that convictions may solely rest on confessions of the offender.”

The Sultan of Brunei, who introduced death by stoning for gay people earlier this month

The Sultan of Brunei, who introduced death by stoning for gay people earlier this month (AFP/Getty)

It adds that the punishment of whipping will be conducted with “moderate force.”

The letter goes on to claim that the penal code’s provisions are “not man-made laws but are ordained by Allah,” adding that they are “not to be misunderstood as any kind of radicalisation.”

The country claims it “reaffirms its commitment to its international obligations in promoting and protecting human rights as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” adding: “As a responsible member of the international community, [Brunei] will continue to uphold its obligations and adhere to international covenants on human rights.”

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