Brunei’s draconian new penal code comes into force

Hotel Eden in Rome belongs to the Dorchester Collection owned by the Brunei Investment Agency

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday criticized new Islamic sharia laws in Brunei that allow for death by stoning for adultery and gay sex as a clear violation of human rights.

The British government on Thursday said Brunei's introduction of harsh new shariah laws, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, was "a backward step" for the southeast Asian country.

The tough penal code in the tiny country on tropical Borneo island - ruled by the all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - came fully into force on Wednesday after several years of delay.

German diplomats expressed concern at the introduction of Sharia law penalties and appealed to Brunei's ambassador to "abide by existing worldwide human rights obligations".

Brunei has been condemned by various countries and imminent personalities including actor George Clooney and Elton John, for implementing the law.

"Tomorrow, the country of #Brunei will start stoning gay people to death".

Homosexuality was already illegal in Brunei, under the Sharia Law imposed on the mostly Muslim country in 2013.

"We hope that Canada is engaging with its partners in the Equal Rights Coalition, and other like-minded states, to explore all possible avenues to publicly and privately condemn Brunei's new penal code punishments in the strongest possible terms", said Amnesty's gender rights campaigner Jackie Hansen in an email to CBC.

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"As a citywide elected official, I represent a diverse community of Angelenos, and I call on everyone to boycott the hotels owned by Brunei's royal family", LA Controller Ron Galperin said in a statement. "We need to do something now", wrote DeGeneres on Twitter.

In a statement to i, Baroness Scotland said that since 1984 the nation had "committed itself to upholding the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter which underscores a commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights covenants and global instruments".

Officials did not immediately confirm that the sharia penal code had entered into force.

The components of the Syariah Penal Code that have provoked the greatest concern and outrage among human rights activists and observers are contained in Part 4, Chapter 1, which sets out the punishments for acts such as adultery, gay sex, rape, theft, robbery, drinking alcohol, making false allegations, and apostasy (abandoning or rejecting Islam).

However, she did not go as far as responding to calls for Brunei to be ejected from the Commonwealth.

Travel agency Flight Centre said the company "vehemently opposes" the application of Sharia law in Brunei.

As other countries take a step forward by defending and upholding the rights of our sisters and brothers from the LGBT community, Brunei takes a step back and decides it's "okay to whip them in public or to throw stones at them until they die".

Le Meurice in Paris did not have a comment but said it wanted to "stress that we do value LGBTQ rights", according to the hotel's press manager, Alexandra Chlopek.

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