Brunei won’t impose death penalty for gay sex after global protests

Brunei will not impose the death penalty on those convicted of engaging in gay sex after global outrage and protest after new laws passed in the country last month.

The country’s ruler, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, addressed the nation and the world in a televised speech on Sunday, where he revealed he would provide a moratorium on capital punishment and ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

His decision comes following mass condemnation of the small southeast Asian country’s initial decision to extend the death penalty for gay sex, with the likes of actor George Clooney, musician Sir Elton John and comedian and host Ellen DeGeneres among those who protested the loudest.

Ahead of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the Sultan said: “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 practised 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.

Some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking, but no executions have been carried out since the 1990s.

Though this is a progressive move, LGBT+ citizens are still facing punishment in the country

Human Rights Campaign Director of Global Partnership Jean Freedberg told CNN:

The world has turned its eyes to Brunei in recent months and we urge the countless advocates, activists and organizations who seized this moment to speak out against these human rights abuses to continue to do so.

And campaigners continue to fight to overturn the laws completely

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