Brunei’s new law authorizing death by stoning for gay people has been officially delayed because, according to the Brunei Times, the head of state and government Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is in Singapore and the government wants to await his return.
The penal code was due to go into effect on April 22 but, as reported by Gay Asian News, it will be delayed until April 30.
The law will punish offenses such as same-sex sexual relations, robbery, insulting or defamation of the Prophet Mohammed—as well as a list of other sex-related offenses such as rape and adultery—with death by stoning, flogging or severing of limbs.
The new and incredibly harsh penalties have, faced international criticism, with some coming from within the Islamic country as well as condemnation from the United Nations who are “deeply concerned.”
One of the wealthiest men in the world, Sultan Hassanal announced his intention in October 2013 to introduce sharia law and punishments to the country. Currently, same-sex sexual relations can result in a ten-year prison sentence.
Though Brunei already has the death penalty in their penal code, no executions have been carried out since 1957. However, with the wide range of offenses listed in the new law, that is likely to change rapidly.
According to LGBT Weekly, the United Nations said that “Stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited.
“The criminalization and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.”
Brunei gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1984. It is a nation of considerable wealth due to the petroleum and natural gas fields found there.