Casting the First Stone: The Significance of Brunei Darussalam’s Syariah Penal Code Order for LGBT Bruneians
17 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 17, 2019
Long before Brunei enacted its controversial law allowing stoning to death for proven homosexual acts, the Sultanate was considered one of the most ‘worrisome’ states in South East Asia for LGBT individuals. In addition to s 377 of its secular criminal Penal Code, there were laws and policies which prevented LGBT people identifying as LBGT, publicly engaging in gender-non-conforming behaviour, and speaking out, either individually or collectively, for equality and rights recognition. The government’s silencing strategy meant little was known about its small and hidden LGBT community until the stoning law was enacted, when suddenly Brunei, and all its discriminatory and repressive laws came under scrutiny. The Sultan, an absolute monarch, backed away from this law and decreed a moratorium on the death penalty, but the law was not repealed, and the symbolism of its retention, along with an increased punishment under s 377, still sends a clear message to LGBT Bruneians and residents. This article aims to provide an overview of the laws, secular and Islamic, that affect the lives of Brunei’s LGBT people, and to analyse the factors which direct, inform and allow its uncompromising stance.
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