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Human Rights Council Bern urges Brunei to scrap death penalty for homosexuals

demonstration in London against Brunei anti-gay law

Brunei's draconian new anti-gay law has drawn international protest, including these demonstrations in London outside a hotel owned by the sultan. 

(Keystone / Sophie Hogan)

Switzerland has called on Brunei to reverse a recent change to its penal code allowing capital punishment for homosexual acts and adultery. 

The call came on Friday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, during Brunei’s Universal Periodic Reviewexternal link

Strict new Islamic laws introduced in Brunei in early April make anal sex, rape and adultery punishable by death, including stoning. However, following an international outcry, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said last Sundayexternal link that the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO).

But Switzerland says the new provisions should be abolished. It also urged Brunei to sign up to international conventions on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as the UN Convention against Torture.external link 

Some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking, but no executions have been carried out since 1957.

Speaking at the Human Rights Council, the country’s deputy foreign minister Dato Erywan Mohn Yusof said the new provisions did not criminalise people because of sexual identity but required the acts concerned to be limited to a private context. 

Brunei's strict new Sharia laws have drawn a storm of protest around the world including from international celebrities such as Elton John and George Clooney who called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by the sultanate. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has also spoken out stronglyexternal link against Brunei’s new penal code provisions. 


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