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Country Does U-Turn on Death Penalty for Gay Sex

Brunei says execution moratorium will continue
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2019 12:59 AM CDT
In this April 19, 2018 photo, the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah listens during the first executive session of the CHOGM summit at Lancaster House in London.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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(Newser) – After a huge international backlash and a boycott movement led by celebrities including George Clooney, Brunei says it won't be enforcing the death penalty for gay sex or adultery. The tiny sultanate, which brought in the penalties last month as part of an ongoing rollout of Shariah law, says a decades-old moratorium on the death penalty would be extended to apply to the new law, the BBC reports.The Southeast Asian nation hasn't executed anybody since 1957. In a speech Sunday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said there had been many "questions and misperceptions" about the implementation of the new law, but "we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident."

Activists welcomed the news, but said Brunei needs to do more, Reuters reports. "This really is fantastic news," tweeted Gay Times Magazine columnist Tom Knight. "The power of activism can help create change, but the fight isn’t over. These laws need to be repealed, not just unenforced." The section of the law introduced April 3 made sex between men punishable by death by stoning. Adultery, rape, insulting the Prophet Mohammed were also punishable by death under the new section of the law, while the punishment for theft was amputation, the BBC reports. Lesbian sex was punishable by up to 10 years in prison or 40 strokes of the cane. (Brunei said the aim of the law was to "educate" and "nurture.")

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