King of Brunei,Hassanal Bolkiah rescinds his decision to enforce the death penalty for gay sex

The small South East Asian country King ,Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei on April 3 rolled out further Islamic Sharia laws which punish sodomy, adultery and rape with death, including by stoning, and theft with amputation, sparking a global outcry.

The small Muslim-majority former British protectorate, Kingdom has said it will not enforce the death penalty for gay sex following a global backlash led by celebrities such as Elton John and George Clooney.

Also, Travel agents, London’s transport network and finance houses were among a rising number of companies on Friday to cut ties with businesses owned by Brunei to protest over the Sultanate’s introduction of the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.

More than 50,000 people signed a petition calling on Oxford University to rescind an honorary degree awarded to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, the world’s second-longest reigning monarch and prime minister of the oil-rich country.

The university’s information office said they shared the international condemnation of Brunei’s new penal code and backed the United Nations’ call to stop this entering into force.

Deutsche Bank banned its staff from staying in the nine luxury hotels of the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by Brunei’s state-owned Brunei Investment Agency (BIA).

BIA did not respond to a request for comment. The UK-based Sovereign Wealth Centre estimates the BIA has US$39 billion of assets under management.

However, in a rare response to criticism, the sultan said the punishment would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO). In a speech 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.’

‘Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country.’ They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals.’

The law’s implementation, which the United Nations condemned, prompted celebrities and rights groups to seek a boycott on hotels owned by the sultan, including the Dorchester in London and the Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

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