The Southeast Asian state of Brunei Darussalam has massively tightened the laws on same-sex intercourse. The revision of the Sultanate’s Criminal Code, which will come into effect next Wednesday, provides for the death penalty for homosexuals by stoning. This rule also applies to foreigners, and therefore also lesbian and gay tourists, who are in the country on the island of Borneo. In the strictly conservative sultanate, homosexuality was already illegal under current Sharia law. More on the death penalty for homosexuals in Brunei here on Couple of Men.
by Sarah Tekath
Stoning for Same-Sex Intercourse in Brunei
Despite fierce international criticism, the autocratic ruler Hassanal Bolkiah has introduced massive punishments for same-sex intercourse. The sultan, who has been in power for over 40 years, announced the tightening of the law in 2014, the Welt (German news magazine) reported. The human rights organization Amnesty International is currently calling for an immediate stop to the rules, as consensual sex should not be punished. The laws in the case of theft were massively tightened as well. Thus, the amputation of the right hand threatens at the first offense and in a repeat offense the amputation of the left leg.
Lesbian and Gays in Brunei
Homosexuality has been banned since the colonial era in the former British colony on the island of Borneo. Gays and lesbians are massively suppressed and persecuted nationwide and especially in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan. So far, homosexuality has been threatened with up to 10 years imprisonment. In addition to the threat of death from April 3, 2019, onwards, public punishment in the form of caning is also possible. The vast majority of the country’s approximately 500,000 inhabitants are of Muslim faith and live under Sharia law, the law derived from religious teachings. Brunei as a Sultanate is one of the richest countries in the world due to the country’s large oil reserves.
George Clooney & Ellen calling for a boycott
As Berlin’s gay magazine Blu reports on their online platform, now famous Hollywood stars such as Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney call for a boycott of several luxury hotels in which the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal (no joke) Bolkiah has invested. The lodgings of the so-called Dorchester Collection, which includes the well-known Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, are considered gay and LGBTQ+ friendly, but boycotting them has been seen an option to protest against Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s actions and his homophobic agenda.
Karl traveled to Brunei in 2009
10 years ago, Karl traveled to the southeast of Asia, including the island of Borneo, where the orangutans are known to live. Even then, the journey was not easy, he recalls. Especially the shy inhabitants of Brunei remained in his memory. “The land is beautiful, and the architecture is very impressive,” says Karl today. “My journey took me to the primeval forest of Borneo, where I was able to wander through the rainforest in the treetops, traveling with my back then boyfriend Peter. But we banished all caresses and affectionate signs to our hotel room, traveling only as travel partners and friends. This circumstances, of course, significantly reduced the quality of traveling as a couple, but at least we were not threatened by the death penalty, which will apply from next week on not only for local LGBTQ+ but also for lesbian, gay and queer tourists. We from Couple of Men send love and support to the LGBTQ+ community in Brunei and hope that an international outcry will bring the turning point!