The sultan of Brunei
Photo: Associated Press

Having gay sex can get you sentenced to death in Brunei, leading to calls to boycott hotels owned by the religiously conservative Islamic nation, including two in Los Angeles popular with the Hollywood A-list.

It’s the latest—and surely among the most extreme—case of “the religious” deciding to impose their will on all the rest of us. Whether it’s policing women’s wombs, weaponizing Jesus in the Pennsylvania Statehouse, or, as Brunei has done, deciding to stone gays and adulterers to death, it’s all wrong, so very wrong.

And I’m pretty sure with all that is wrong in the world, the God of all ain’t here for any of it.

That said, the new law that went into effect Wednesday in the tiny, but wealthy, Southeast Asian nation not only targets the LGBT community for death by stoning or being whipped, it also calls for the death of adulterers. In addition, thieves can have their right hand amputated, or a left foot for a second offense, as the Associated Press reports.

Advertisement

And neither children nor foreigners are exempt from the penalties, which are based on Brunei’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

“Living in Brunei, we already knew that our sexual identity is taboo and should not be expressed. We already felt belittled before the law came to place,” a 23-year-old member of the LGBTQ community who wanted to be identified only as Kun out of fear of reprisal from the authorities told the AP.

Advertisement

Brunei, where Muslims make up about two-thirds of the population, put the law into effect despite outcry from human rights groups and celebrities including Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney.

“Brunei’s new penal code is barbaric to the core, imposing archaic punishments for acts that shouldn’t even be crimes,” Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said Wednesday.

Advertisement

George Clooney has called for a boycott of Brunei-connected properties, including the tony Beverly Hills Hotel and Bel-Air Hotel, which are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz says he will introduce a resolution to discourage residents and tourists from staying at the hotels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?” Clooney wrote in a column for Deadline Hollywood, according to the AP, adding that while you can’t shame “murderous regimes,” you can shame “the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them.”

Advertisement

Brunei, a nation of just over 450,000 people in Southeast Asia, may be tiny, but it’s also one of the richest nations in the world with a GDP per capita of almost $79,000, and a well-educated, largely English-speaking population.

Brunei is also among the most religiously conservative of nations, imposing Islamic law as the law of the land beginning in 2014.