State Department Won’t Condemn Brunei’s Anti-Gay Stoning Law

The Trump administration has criticized the introduction of Sharia law, but is hesitant to give a full-throated condemnation of anti-LGBTQ abuses.

The U.S. State Department has declined the chance to condemn Brunei’s new law, set to go into effect April 3, that will publish gay sex with whippings and stonings.

A department spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Friday it was “concerned” by the plan to introduce the final two phases of Sharia law in the country, which would also call for stoning and whipping as punishment for adultery. That answer came after 24 hours of silence.

sultan of brunei
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah

It declined the opportunity to directly object to the plan to punish LGBTQ people, instead offering a general statement, saying, “Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people, including LGBTI people, can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled. We strongly oppose human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI persons, including violence, the criminalization of LGBTI status or conduct, and serious forms of discrimination.”

The State Department spokesperson said it had also “encouraged Brunei to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 2015, and to sign, ratify, and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The Daily Beast pressed further, inquiring whether or not the United States had raised concerns with Brunei over the law.

“We regularly communicate with the Government of Brunei regarding human rights and encourage it to uphold its international commitments on human rights,” a spokesperson answered.

They did not reply to a request for a specific denunciation of the plan to stone LGBTQ people, instead referring again to the statement provided. The publication also asked for a statement from Vice President Mike Pence, noting his involvement in foreign policy. It went unanswered.

“We are facing a dangerous crisis as Brunei is close to implementing laws that impose state-sponsored torture and murder of LGBTQ people,” said Human Rights Campaign’s Global Director Ty Cobb.

“It’s absolutely crucial that the international community speak out now and demand that the Sultan of Brunei stop these barbaric changes that threaten the lives of Brunei citizens. The Trump-Pence Administration must also immediately make clear that these outrageous human rights abuses will not be tolerated.”

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