Archaic and Barbaric Laws against Gay People

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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An article came out 2 weeks ago on The Guardian’s website, called “It’s dangerous to go out now’: young, gay and scared in Brunei.” The article says that in South-east Asia, on the island of Borneo, in Brunei harsh new sharia laws have been introduced, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, and amputation of limbs for theft. These grievous penalties leaded to international condemnation and calls from celebrities to boycott hotels owned by sultan of Brunei.

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The laws came into effect with zero official fanfare, or even passing a mention. Young Bruneians are sceptical that anyone will actually be stoned, but they think that “the implementation gives a lot of conservative people who are very homophobic a lot of power”. Living in a conservative majority – Muslim society with strict laws already in place – gay sex, for example, has been long illegal, but Bruneians went too far with this. People also feel indignation that the international coverage has skewed perceptions of their country that detract from what they see as attributes – a strong education and healthcare system, and no income tax.

Muslim society, by and large, still strongly patriarchal which extols masculinity. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, men who had been persecuted for their sexuality in Europe often sought refuge in Morocco and, long before same-sex marriage was dreamed of in the west. In some Muslim countries, whole towns have become the butt of jokes about the supposed homosexuality of their inhabitants. Among other Arab countries, the penalty is imprisonment up to 10 years, and in those that have no specific law against homosexuality, gay people may still be prosecuted under other laws. But one reason for the comparatively small number of prosecutions is the official fiction that gay people don’t exist to any great extent in Muslim countries, homosexuality is regarded primarily as a western phenomenon. Although Muslim societies today can be described as generally homophobic, the result is that society places high value on conformity and expressions of individuality are frowned upon, there is a strong emphasis on upholding social “norms” and the need to keep up appearances at least in public. The patriarchal system plays a major part with strongly defined roles for men and women too. Gay men, especially those who show feminine traits, may be regarded as challenging the social order. Meanwhile, lesbian activity goes largely unnoticed, because in a male-orientated society men don’t pay attention to it or don’t regard it as very significant. Muslim condemnations of homosexuality, like in Christianity, are based mainly on the story about God’s punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah which is recounted in the Qur’an as well as the Old Testament. So the biblical and Qur’anic versions are mainly similar.

In 2018 LGBT rights have made significant process but only in some parts of the world. In many cultures, LGBT people still face widespread stigmatization and persecution and in a surprisingly big number of countries the penalty for same-sex relationship is prison or even death, like in Brunei too. Other countries where homosexuality is punishable by death are Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen under sharia law. On the other hand, there are countries with constitutions that explicitly guarantee equality for citizens on the basis of sexual orientation as well as gender identity.

Study revealed that American Muslims are more accepting of homosexuality besides that homophobia certainly still exists in American Muslim communities, as a whole, they are slowly becoming more accepting. There might be differences between people with the same religion, but people should be treated equally in every culture. Being a homosexual was treated as a mental illness in the past but so many people started to look things from a different angle, and started to accept this “lifestyle”.

Homosexuality is already illegal and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment in the sultanate, but these changes would make Brunei become the first Asian country to make homosexuality punishable by death. But now the changes that would allow whipping and stoning to death for Muslims found for guilty of same-sex relations, adultery, sodomy and rape is the most humiliating act that the sultanate could make. Brunei is a former British protectorate with 67% of whom are Muslim and ruled by a sultan. Therefore, Brunei isn’t the only country with Muslim-majority where homosexuality is punishable by death, but it is imitating the most conservative Arab states.

People across the world who boycott staying in hotels owned by the sultan are absolutely doing the right thing and proves that these laws are barbaric and inhumane and truly humiliating. Many still sceptical but the majority is in fear and they have to make changes in their lifestyles, for bisexual oriented people it is easier but for homosexual people can’t change their lives from one day to another.

Besides all the religious teaching, punishing homosexuality to death by stoning in the 21st century is not acceptable, and the sultanate should reconsider these movements. If people in Brunei will not be able to make changes or organise groups to take steps against the draconian laws, people or LGBT communities across the world should help them. Not just Brunei, but every other country who use death penalty against homosexuality should consider the abolition of these laws. According to Qur’an you can’t be blamed for being happy and finding pleasure, then you should not be accused by who you are. You can’t decide who you are and you can’t control your sexual identity, introducing death penalty won’t change the way people feel. Forced marriages or pre-arranged marriages are very common in these countries, but finding pleasure in somebody else in the same sex while being married to the opposite would be a bigger shame than same-sex marriage.

I am totally opposed to these laws and I think that Muslim countries in Asia should catch up with the Muslim communities from the western societies, and be more accepting to homosexuality.

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Archaic and Barbaric Laws Against Gay People. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from