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Brunei defends brutal anti-LGBT Sharia law, says it aims to 'educate and deter rather than punish'

Brunei became the first country in Southeast Asia to introduce a sharia penal code on a national level, drawing outrage and condemnation from the international community.
UPDATED MAR 10, 2020
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei (Source : Getty Images)
Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei (Source : Getty Images)

Brunei's foreign minister on Thursday defended the country's new anti-LGBT laws, which came into effect last week as the region introduced a new penal code which includes death by stoning for gay sex and adultery.

Brunei became the first country in East and Southeast Asia to introduce a sharia penal code on a national level last week on Wednesday, drawing outrage and condemnation from the international community. The foreign minister, Dato Erywan, in a letter to the United Nations (UN), said that the controversial law "focuses more on prevention than punishment" and will "safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage."

The letter from the Brunei minister came after the UN slammed its new laws as "cruel and inhuman" and human right campaigners protested outside properties across the world linked to Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta participates in a rally to protest draconian punishment of women and gay people announced by the Sultan of Brunei outside the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan, on May 5, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

The foreign minister said that the evidence required in the death penalty cases stated under the sharia law would have to be high, and implied that it would be rarely used. "Its aim is to educate, deter, rehabilitate and nurture rather than to punish," he said, according to the Daily Mail

The sharia law of the country dictates that capital punishment will also be imposed for blasphemy and heresy against Islam, and those caught engaging in lesbian sex will be punished by forty lashes, while the right hands of the thieves will be chopped off. If the offense is repeated, then their foot will be cut down too. 

The Sultan of Brunei attends the powdering ceremony of his son at The Sultans Palace Diraja September 5, 2004 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With the controversial law in the country coming into effect it has drawn worldwide outrage with Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney, Sir Elton John and the American comedienne Ellen DeGeneres calling for a boycott of all of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's hotels. 

The Sultan's Dorchester hotel in London, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, has been a prime focus of protests ever since the law was announced. Reports state that the country also owns 45 Park Lane as well as Coworth Park, both in the UK, as well as the Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills hotels in Los Angeles.

Protesters outside the Dorchester Hotel in London broke through a barricade last Saturday to rally against the Sultan and his anti-LGBT laws and nearly 500 people participated in the protest in Park Lane, central London last week.