Brunei makes U-turn on ‘death penalty’ for gay sex

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Brunei has announced it will not enforce death penalty for gay sex in a significant U-turn after receiving widespread criticism.

The country’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation barring gay sex in a bid to alleviate an international backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The small Southeast Asian country sparked an outcry when it rolled out its interpretation of Islamic laws, or sharia, last month, punishing sodomy, adultery, and rape with death, including by stoning.

Brunei has consistently defended its right to implement the laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then.

However, in a rare response to criticism aimed at the oil-rich state, the sultan said the death penalty would not be imposed in the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO).

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