The Sultan of Brunei has confirmed that the nation won’t enforce its law penalizing gay sex and adultery with whipping, torture, or death by stoning.
According to The Independent, the Sultan specifically issued a moratorium on implementing the penalty, part of strict Islamic Sharia law, in response to the outpouring of anger worldwide. (Prior to this policy, gay sex was already illegal in Brunei; however, it was only punishable by a prison sentence.)
The news comes after months of outrage and backlash from LGBTQ advocates and allies around the world, including protests, boycotts, and public condemnation from celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney.
Today, Brunei will implement laws that impose state-sponsored torture and murder of LGBTQ people and others.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 3, 2019
However, it’s definitely a political U-turn for the southeast Asian country.
Previously, leading government officials in Brunei had defended the barbaric punishment for gay sex as a policy meant to “rehabilitate and nurture” LGBTQ people. The law’s implementation prompted queer Bruneians to fear for their lives—and, in many cases, flee the country as refugees.
In response to the Sultan’s moratorium, HRC insisted that the “draconian law” still needs to be repealed entirely.
It's reported the Sultan of Brunei declared a moratorium on the death penalty, but urge this draconian law be repealed entirely.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) May 5, 2019
Imani also highlighted the work that remains to be done, echoing HRC’s sentiment that the fight for justice in Brunei and beyond is far from over:
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Ramadan starts with a human rights victory. We aren’t done yet. Being LGBTQ+ is STILL CRIMINALIZED in Brunei and in countless other countries. Let’s feel encouraged that indeed outrage does inspire action and let’s pledge to continue doing the work. Thank you to @adameli & @voices4_ and Ani Zonneveld & @mpvusa for leading this important work on the ground and at decision making tables globally. ️☪️ #Brunei #LGBTQ #LGBTQMuslims
Meanwhile, the Trump administration remains silent on the issue, refusing to speak out against the life-threatening human rights violations at work in Brunei.