On Sunday, Brunei’s Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah stated that there will be a “moratorium” on the newly implemented Syariah Penal Code (SPCO) punishment for homosexual acts.
Reuters has provided a partial quote from the sultan’s speech:
I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO. 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.
He also stated that “both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country,” and that “they are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals.”
In late-March, news broke that Brunei’s Syariah Penal Code pertaining to homosexual conduct would be implemented on April 3. Following the announcement, the majority-Muslim nation became the focus on international attention.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, world leaders issued condemnations, including the following from the State Department:
The United States is concerned with Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code. Some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations, including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We have encouraged Brunei to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 2015, and to sign, ratify, and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Celebrities also spoke out, with actor George Clooney asking for a boycott of all Brunei-owned hotels around the world.
Amnesty International released a scathing statement: “Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”
The exact text of the Syariah Penal Code regarding homosexual acts reads:
Any person who commits liwat is guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction to the same punishment as provided for the offense of zina [sex outside of marriage].
(2) For the purposes of this Order, “liwat” means sexual intercourse between a man and another man or between a man and a woman other than his wife, done against the order of nature that is through the anus.
The punishment for zina is defined in the Syariah Penal Code:
Any Muslim who commits zina and it is proved either by ikrar [pledge] of the accused, or by syahadah [true testimony] of at least four syahid [one who provides evidence via testimony] according to Hukum Syara’ [Islamic law] after the Court is satisfied having regard to the requirements of tazkiyah al syuhud [questioning of the witnesses by the court], is guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction to hadd punishment as follows –
(a) if he is muhshan [a married Muslim man or woman], stoning to death witnessed by a group of Muslims; or
(b) if he is ghairu muhshan, whipping with 100 strokes witnessed by a group of Muslims and imprisonment for a term of one year.
If the sultan is speaking truthfully, these horrific punishments that sparked worldwide outrage will not be enforced.
According to Cornell Law School, although there is “at least one person” currently on death row in Brunei, the country hasn’t carried out any “known” executions since 1957.