The Southeast Asian nation of Brunei today adopted the first phase of a brutal penal code that includes the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians, the public flogging of women who have abortions, and the jailing of women who become pregnant outside of marriage.
The laws will be introduced in three phases over the course of three years. Phase one, starting today, will punish certain offenses with hefty fines or prison time. Phase two will add such punishments as amputations and floggings for other crimes, and the third phase will include crimes punishable by stoning to death.
According to Al Jazeera, some Brunei citizens expressed criticism of the new code on social media earlier this year, but mostly quieted down under pressure from the Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said it has “deep concern” about the proposed new laws and the ramifications it would hold for human rights in Brunei. The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to conduct a Universal Periodic Review of Brunei on Friday.
Yesterday Feminist Majority Foundation announced that it pulled an event from the Beverly Hills Hotel after discovering it is owned by the Sultan and launched a petition to stop the code from going into effect. “We cannot hold a human rights and women’s rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal in a statement.
Brunei is an industrialized, petroleum and natural gas country on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. The Brunei Investment Agency owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Bel-Air Hotel, and other Dorchester Collection Properties. The Agency is managed by the Brunei Ministry of Finance which is controlled by the Sultan.
TAKE ACTION: Sign our petition calling on the government of Brunei to immediately rescind the new code and asking the United Nations to take action if these laws go into effect, and join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #StopTheSultan. If you are in the Los Angeles area, join FMF, gay and lesbian and women’s rights groups to protest this gross violation of human rights at a noon rally on May 5, across the street from the hotel in a park on Sunset Boulevard.
Media Resources: United Nations 4/11/14; Al Jazeera 4/30/14; Feminist Newswire 4/30/14; Ms. magazine 4/30/14