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In a stunning about-face, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah today announced that he would be placing a moratorium on the Brunei gay death penalty that was enacted on April 3. In his speech, given before the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, he referenced the increasing backlash to the law and the boycotts against his Brunei-owned American hotel properties.
Today, Sunday, the Sultan attempted to temper the anger and activism following the Brunei gay death penalty’s enactment in his speech, which was then translated into English, a rarity. It’s assumed the translation is due to the West’s outrage against the April enactment.
While the Sultan continues to believe the Brunei gay death penalty law has merit, he will place a moratorium on the death penalty for gay individuals and those guilty of other crimes.
From the Sultan’s speech about the Brunei gay death penalty:
I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO [Syariah Penal Code Order]. However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.
As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.
Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country. They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals.
The new laws enacted on April 3 would result in the death penalty for anyone found guilty of gay sex and adultery. Those individuals would be stoned to death. No executions have been carried out in Brunei since the 1990s, though the law quickly prompted outrage from activists and celebrities, who were vocal about boycotting the Sultan’s hotels, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Many international companies had also placed a ban on the Sultan’s hotels, and some travel companies had ceased promoting Brunei as a destination.
What do you think of the news that the Brunei gay death penalty will no longer be enforced?
Featured image by REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo