Brunei Brings In Death Penalty Today For Homosexuality Despite International Outcry

George Clooney boycott Five of the nine Dorchester Collection hotels owned by Brunei  Hotel Meurice in Paris The Dorchester in London The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles  The Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris and The Hotel Bel Air

Brunei's sultan called for Islamic teachings in the country to be strengthened as strict new sharia punishments, including death by stoning for gay sex and adultery, were due to come into force on Wednesday.

Analysts say the new code may be largely symbolic as Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah seeks to burnish his Islamic credentials with conservatives, and note that although Brunei has long had the death penalty, the last known execution was in 1957.

The penalties were provided for under new sections of Brunei's Shariah penal code.

Celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres have voiced opposition to the new laws, and have rallied a boycott of nine hotels in the US and Europe with ties to Hassanal, who is still sultan.

"The Commonwealth Secretariat is ready and willing to provide Brunei Darussalam with technical assistance and to advise on the formulation of a revised Penal Code in accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter and in compliance with worldwide human rights law and obligations including on the issue of harmonisation".

A university spokesman said: "The University of Aberdeen is inclusive and open to all".

Dorchester Collection hotel group is owned by Brunei's state-owned investment agency.

Under the new law, individuals will only be convicted of gay sex if they confess or are seen committing the act by four witnesses. Brunei does not hold elections and is exclusively ruled by 72-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the world's second-longest reigning monarch and one of the wealthiest.

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She Tweeted: "The country of Brunei will start stoning gay people to death".

"Living in Brunei, we already knew that our sexual identity is taboo and should not be expressed".

George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres were among the first celebrities to join the call for a boycott of the Brunei-owned hotels, including the famous Beverly Hills Hotel in California.

Zayce said that gay people in Brunei, who were leading "secretive lives" even before death by stoning came into force, were now even more scared.

Oxford awarded Hassanal Bolkiah, who has been both head of state and prime minister of Brunei since 1967, an honorary degree of civil law by diploma in 1993. Lesbian sex will carry a penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in jail, while those who "persuade, tell or encourage" Muslim children under the age of 18 "to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam" are liable for a fine or jail.

The sharia laws have triggered worldwide reaction, and Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, described the code as "barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that should´t even be crimes". Brunei Darussalam has always been practising a dual legal system, one that is based on the Syariah Law and the other on Common Law.

Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London have also called for a school building named the Brunei Gallery to be renamed.

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