KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Brunei must rowback on plans to implement changes to its penal code next month that could see LGBT+ people whipped or stoned to death for same-sex activity, human rights groups said on Monday.
Brunei was the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law in 2014 when it announced the first of three stages of legal changes that included fines or jail for offences like pregnancy outside marriage or failing to pray on Friday.
Previously homosexuality was illegal in Brunei and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, but the changes would allow whipping and stoning to death for Muslims found guilty of adultery, sodomy and rape, said human rights groups.
The country delayed implementing the final two stages of changes after an international backlash in 2014 but now plans to go ahead with both on April 3, said Matthew Woolfe, founder of human rights group The Brunei Project.
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, a Manila-based human rights group, confirmed the implementation of the remaining changes were due to take place on April 3, citing government documents.
Manila-based OutRight Action International also confirmed Brunei was about to implement a new stage in its sharia laws.
The Brunei Prime Minister’s Department did not respond to an emailed request for comment.