Brunei says it won't enforce gay death penalty

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 6, 2019 - Duration: 01:35s

Brunei says it won't enforce gay death penalty

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extends a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

Eve Johnson reports.

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Brunei says it won't enforce gay death penalty

Brunei says it will not enforce its death penalty for gay sex.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on Sunday (May 5) extended a decades-long moratorium on the death penalty to a set of laws that set off a global outcry last month.

In a televised speech, the sultan said Allah would never hand down laws meant to inflict cruelty on others The Muslim-majority country rolled out a new, stricter interpretation of Islamic laws in April.

The Syariah Penal Code Order - or SPCO - made gay sex, as well as adultery and rape, punishable by death including by stoning.

The move sparked condemnation by the United Nations and led celebrities like George Clooney and Elton John to call for a boycott of nine hotels the sultanate owns.

That list includes the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and the Dorchester in London.

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the laws which have been rolled out in phases since 2014.

But the Sultan's speech was seen as a rare attempt to try and temper the global backlash.

He said Sunday (May 5) he was aware of the "questions and misconceptions" and conscious that they may cause apprehension.

The Sultan's announcement drew cautious approval from some.

Tom Knight, a columnist for Gay Times magazine, called it fantastic news..

But urged Brunei to repeal the laws altogether.

Some crimes - like premeditated murder and drug trafficking - already carry a death sentence in Brunei.

But the country hasn't carried out any executions since 1957.

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