European Parliament backs calls for Brunei ‘asset freezes and visa bans’

MEPs vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The European Parliament has backed calls for asset freezes and visa bans over Brunei’s new ‘death to gays’ penal code.

The body passed a resolution on Thursday (April 18) condemning the new Brunei penal code, which introduces the death penalty for gay sex and adultery, while lesbian sex is punished with whipping.

Brunei has sought to defend the law, claiming in a letter that there had been “misconceptions” around the penal code.

European Parliament throws weight behind Brunei resolution

However, the European Parliament threw its weight behind a resolution “strongly condemning the use of torture and cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment” in Brunei, warning that it “violates Brunei’s obligations under international human rights law.”

The resolution calls on authorities “to consider the adoption at EU level of restrictive measures related to serious human rights violations, including asset freezes and visa bans.”

The European Parliament

The European Parliament has backed calls for Brunei asset freezes and visa bans over the country’s ‘death to gays’ penal code. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

It also backs a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels, adding: “As long as the current Penal Code is in force, the EU institutions must consider blacklisting the hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.”

The resolution also calls on EU member states to implement “asylum procedures and humanitarian protection for victims of Brunei’s current Penal Code.”

MEPs call for action against Sultan of Brunei

UK Green MEP Jean Lambert said:  “Should the Sultan and his allies fail to scrap these laws, we urge the EU and its Member States to consider using every tool available to end this cruel treatment, including asset freezes and visa bans.

“Everyone has the right to live and love in peace, according to international human rights standards.

“We stand in solidarity with the LGBTI+ community, women, children and other vulnerable groups in Brunei, as well as the brave human rights defenders who are putting their lives on the line to stand up for their fellow citizens.​​”

Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake said: “The ferocious corporal punishments that have been introduced in Brunei, like punishing gay sex with death by stoning, are repugnant and go against all international human rights legislation.

“Capital punishment could even be imposed on children. We, as Europe, have to respond unitedly.”

Schaake added: “With European measures such as a travel ban and the freezing of financial assets, aimed at the Sultan himself, we [can] really put him under pressure. We also want to blacklist the hotels of the Brunei Investment Agency, owned by the Sultan.”