May 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

The tiny southeast Asian country of Brunei has adopted a harsh legal code that calls for stoning to death anyone found guilty of engaging in same-sex relationships, adultery, abortion [or] blasphemy. The code, which also calls for the amputation of limbs for theft, is based on a strict interpretation of the Quran. It went into effect early last month, reported The New York Times.

“Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Brunei, a monarchy, has fewer than half a million residents and is ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who has been moving to implement a severe form of Islamic law since 2013. The country is majority Muslim.

The announcement of the new penalties led to an outcry from human-rights activists, celebrities and others. But officials in Brunei said they would not be deterred. The government issued a statement saying that Brunei “is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws.”