Canada-led rights coalition slams Brunei death penalty for gay sex

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 16 2019 06:16 AM

FILE PHOTO: Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah attends the retreat session during the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 18, 2018. David Gray, Reuters

OTTAWA, Canada - More than 30 countries led by Canada have called on Brunei to repeal its newly-adopted death penalty for gay sex and other harsh punishments for robbery, rape, and adultery.

In a weekend statement, the intergovernmental Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) expressed "profound dismay" that the sultanate adopted the "extreme penalties" among several harsh new sharia laws.

"We urge the government of Brunei to repeal the new penalties, and to ensure that any measures that are introduced are consistent with Brunei's international human rights obligations and commitments," it said.

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

It has sparked a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities, and rights groups.

The ERC, currently co-chaired by Canada, was launched in 2016 at an LGBT rights conference in Montevideo, Uruguay to promote international equal rights for all.

Its declaration on Brunei was signed by Britain, France and several other European powers, the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Israel and a handful of Latin American nations, including Uruguay and Mexico.

The group said the penalties introduced by the southeast Asian country have "a detrimental impact" on vulnerable groups in Brunei, including LGBT people, women, and children.

The measures, it said, exacerbate their marginalization and "increase the risk that they will be exposed to discrimination, persecution and violence, even if they are not prosecuted for having violated the Code."