Brunei is introducing strict new Islamic laws that make anal sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. Rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insulting the Prophet Muhammad will all carry a maximum penalty of death. Homosexuality was already illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The new laws will institute extremely brutal punishments. The punishment for theft is amputation. Engaging in lesbian sex carries a penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in prison. Those who “persuade, tell or encourage” Muslim children under the age of 18 “to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam” are liable to a fine or prison. Individuals who have not reached puberty are subject to slightly more lenient punishments. A prepubescent individual convicted of certain crimes may be subjected to being whipped.
In a public address, as the new laws came into force on Wednesday, the Sultan of the South East Asian nation said, “I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger.”
Brunei’s gay community has expressed shock and fear. Parts of the new laws apply to Muslims only. Muslims make up about two-thirds of the country’s population of 420,000.