Following my debate on human rights in Brunei last month, I have received confirmation that the government of Brunei will not punish homosexuality with the death penalty. This is a success, but I still have serious concerns about the laws in Brunei and other countries where people are punished for who they love.
Brunei recently introduced a series of brutal ‘punishments’, including death by stoning for gay sex and flogging for abortion. I called a debate on this matter, demanding that the government to raise Brunei’s infringement of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), which bans countries from inflicting pain as punishment.
It seems the government heard this call. Earlier this week, I received a letter from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office saying that they raised these matters – and the Bruneian government has agreed that its penal code is incompatible with its commitment to implement UNCAT. As a result, there will be a “de facto moratorium on the death penalty in Brunei.” In other words, gay people will not be stoned to death.
I shared the horror of people across the country – and especially within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community – at the violent and oppressive code that Brunei recently implemented and I was determined to take action to fight against this persecution of women and LGBT people by a so-called ally of the UK.
I welcome these reassurances, but there is still far more to do. It is not enough simply to say that these violent punishments will not be enforced – women and LGBT people living in Brunei (including the many UK citizens resident in the country) will not feel safe unless these misogynistic and homophobic laws are removed from the country’s statute book.
Read the letter below: