Sunday

19th Jan 2020

Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter

  • Brunei's sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is the architect behind the laws (Photo: Cia Pak)

Brunei has defended its draconian anti-homosexual and anti-adultery laws in a letter to the European Parliament (EP), while saying that few homosexuals are stoned to death in practice.

The south-east Asian country of 400,000 recently passed laws where homosexuals and others who commit adultery face brutal executions through a penal sentence known as "hadd".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Thieves and robbers also risk amputations.

The architect behind the sharia laws, the 72-year old sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who has ruled the oil-rich nation for decades, has since turned into an international pariah amid celebrity boycotts of his luxury hotels.

But the Brunei mission to the EU defended its position in a letter to MEPs ahead of a debate on human rights in the EP in Strasbourg on Thursday (18 April).

The criminalisation of adultery and sodomy were needed to safeguard the sanctity of family lineages and marriage, its four-page memo, obtained by EUoserver said.

The criminal offences did not apply to non-Muslims, it added.

And the harshest of the punishments, such as stoning to death of gay men, were seldom carried out because there were too few robust witnesses to fulfil legal requirements, it also said.

At least two males of "high moral standing piety" must witness the crime of sodomy or adultery, it noted.

But the difficulty in finding such men meant the stonings were unlikely to occur in practice, the Brunei diplomats added.

"The standards of piety of the male witness is extremely high, [so] that it is extremely difficult to find one in this day and age," their letter said.

The Brunei embassy further noted that its anti-gay sharia law was meant to prevent the alleged crimes from taking place instead of punishing people after the fact.

Meanwhile, people who committed less severe "crimes" were to be whipped by people of the same gender, it said.

Only moderate force was to be used and the whipping should not result in the "laceration of the skin" or "break bones", it added.

The European Union has said any such punishments violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Brunei signed the convention in 2015.

EU counts cost of US visa war

US nationals could be forced to seek EU visas from mid-October. But the move would be a "disaster" for bilateral relations and would cost billions if implemented.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

MEPs slam UK for violating EU police database

EUobserver's revelations of how the UK violates and abuses an EU police database sparked heated debate in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee - as the European Commission refused to respond to questions given the confidentiality of the leaked document.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us