Brunei's anti-gay laws 'deeply concerning' despite stoning backtrack, says UN gender expert

United Nations Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination, Chilean Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, has criticised Brunei's anti-gay laws despite an assurance from Brunei's sultan that a moratorium on capital punishment will also extend to sharia laws that include stoning to death for gay sex and adultery.

It was the first time Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah had commented publicly on the new penal code since it entered force in April, and his remarks appeared aimed at assuaging worldwide criticism.

The laws, which also include amputation of hands and feet for thieves in the tiny sultanate on Borneo island, sparked fury from celebrities, including actor George Clooney, the United Nations and rights groups. 

Mr Madrigal-Borloz, who is also the secretary general of the International Council of Rehabilitation for Victims of Torture, said despite the assurance, the laws "demonstrate a degree of cruelty that normalises torture".

"That is, imposing extreme pain on others with the support of the state to the end of breaking them,” he told SBS Spanish. 

“There is a solid body of evidence to conclude that the criminalisation of same-sex consensual relations between adults is contrary to international human rights law. Detention on that basis is arbitrary, and imposing the death penalty is, similarly, an arbitrary killing.”

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