Brunei stoning law highlights barriers

A newlywed couple at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan the capital of Brunei where laws are taking effect

The new penal code includes punishment for sodomy, adultery and rape through death by stoning; theft by amputation of the right hand and left foot, and other punitive measures such as whipping, imprisonment and fines for drinking alcohol or sexual intimacy between two women.

The University of Aberdeen said sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's LLD (Doctor of Laws), awarded in 1995, will be urgently raised with its honorary degrees committee.

Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years.

"Brunei [is] the only country with laws that allow for the execution of LGBT people to have landing rights in Australia", the group said in a statement.

In a statement Wednesday, Human Rights Watch described the new penal code as "barbaric to the core" and urged the sultan to "immediately suspend amputations, stoning, and all other rights-abusing provisions and punishments".

Brunei Investment Agency, a government-owned corporation founded by 72-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, owns luxury hotels across the USA, United Kingdom and Europe, including both the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, The Dorchester in London and Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan.

Plans to implement sharia law were announced in 2013 and the first phase, with less stringent punishments, came into effect the following year, before the entire penal code was implemented this week.

Newly enacted Islamic laws governing gay sex and adultery in Brunei have sparked worldwide outcry.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, denounced the "vicious" laws and asked the international community to condemn them.

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According to global human rights laws, the death penalty should only be used to punish murder or intentional killing, and only after a fair trial.

A spokesperson for the University of Aberdeen said: "The University of Aberdeen is inclusive and open to all".

As other countries take a step forward by defending and upholding the rights of our sisters and brothers from the LGBT community, Brunei takes a step back and decides it's "okay to whip them in public or to throw stones at them until they die".

The harsh penal code will also apply to citizens who are caught being adulterous under the sultanate's Sharia Penal Code, according to the country's attorney general. Brunei does not hold elections and is exclusively ruled by 72-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the world's second-longest reigning monarch and one of the wealthiest.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it has updated its travel advice for Brunei to more explicitly outline the possible use of the death penalty and physical punishments for a range of offences.

Muslims make up about two-thirds of the Brunei's population of 434,000.

Joining the actor was Elton John who called on Brunei-owned hotels to be boycotted.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet labeled the new law "draconian" and appealed to Brunei's government to halt its implementation.

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