Brunei Rainbow Flag

A kingdom of unexpected barbarism

Brunei’s new penal code, which went into effect on 3 April 2019 includes, among other things,:

  • death by stoning for extramarital sex and anal sex; and
  • 40 lashes with a whip for lesbian sex.

And that’s how ‘A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures’ became ‘A Kingdom of Unexpected Barbarism’.

Abortion is also criminalised, of course. After all, why break with the tradition of targeting religions’ favourite victims over the centuries: the LGBTIQ community and women. These are tried and tested themes in the handbooks of ignorant religious extremists.

Children who have reached puberty and are convicted of offenses may receive the same punishments as adults, and certain younger children may be subjected to whipping.

Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to its core, and it imposes archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes.

In response to the new laws the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a statement noting that the new penal code ‘would enshrine in legislation cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach international human rights law’.

The International Bar Association also condemned the new laws.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code in Brunei – due to come into effect on 3 April 2019 – which permits stoning and whipping to death of anyone convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity.

I shudder to say this, but I approve of Perez Hilton mercilessly outing the son of Brunei’s Sultan, Prince Azim, in response (at 3:25) …

In such circumstances the outing of the Sultan’s own son is an utterly justified step to highlight the inherent hypocrisy of such laws. Because, let’s face it, in such arbitrary, oppressive societies the people who are usually targeted by such laws will almost always be those who are outside the corrupt power structure.

Brunei’s argument recently submitted to the European Parliament in defense of its medieval new laws under which it can punish homosexuality with death by stoning are embarrassing on an international scale.

Any argument that relies on ‘cultural traditions and values’ and ‘religious freedom’ to explain, or justify, the subjugation, punishment, or killing of others is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

‘Cultural traditions and values’ and ‘freedom of religion’ end where fundamental human freedom and dignity begin.

Arguing ‘cultural relativism’ in order to avoid ‘offence’ to ‘cultural traditions and values’ and ‘religious beliefs’ when it comes to the protection of fundamental civil and human rights is cowardice, and an intellectual and moral failure.

The protection of fundamental civil and human rights under the law is never an internal affair.

Civil and human rights are superior rights, and know no nationality, gender, race or sexuality; bow to no sovereignty, culture, or religion; they’re constant, universal, and inalienable.

We must continue to resist the implementation of such inhumane laws, and one thing we can do is to protest and boycott the Sultan’s commercial interests around the world, such as the Royal Brunei Airlines, and the Dorchester Collection of hotels and restaurants, such as The Dorchester, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Plaza Athénée, Hotel Meurice, Principe di Savoia, Hotel Bel-Air, Coworth Park, 45 Park Lane, Hotel Eden, and their restaurants.

Let us all stay and eat somewhere owned by someone far less Stone Age-like and barbarously murderous …

And to those who chose ‘whataboutism’ in response to the boycott calls against Brunei, yes, nations such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran are arguably equally horrible and oppressive places for the LGBTIQ community and women, and those who value civil and human rights, and social justice, equally oppose and protest those regimes.

However, Brunei has created a brand new class of medieval barbarism of its own, by implementing such inhumane laws at the dawn of the 21st century.

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