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Brunei kicks off tourism push–and death penalty for homosexuality

Brunei kicks off tourism push–and death penalty for homosexuality
Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah. [Photo: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]

Earlier this week, Royal Brunei Airlines announced that it was taking over the job as the sultanate’s marketing organization for the national tourist board. According to a story in Skift, the airline was hoping to help attract tourists to the small country on the island of Borneo who otherwise might book tickets to Singapore, Bali, Cambodia, or Oman. Few tourists, however, will rush to purchase tickets to Brunei now as the sultanate just announced that it was putting into effect new laws that allow for stoning people to death for adultery and homosexuality.

The harsh, inhumane penalties were announced back in 2013 and the international outcry was loud and ardent. Remember people boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel? It was because of Brunei’s cruel law.  Following the outcry, Brunei delayed carrying out the harshest provisions of its law, but now it is moving ahead with them.

As the New York Times points out, the rules are now slated to go into effect on April 3, according to an announcement posted by the country’s attorney general last year. Under the brutal laws, adultery and same-sex relationships will be punished with stoning; meanwhile, thieves will be punished with amputation of hands or feet–including children.

Human rights groups around the world are decrying the law. “Brunei’s Penal Code is a deeply flawed piece of legislation containing a range of provisions that violate human rights,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher for Amnesty International, said in a statement. “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion, and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.”

International protests worked to delay the law’s implementation once, and perhaps it will work again–particularly if it impact’s Brunei’s ability to attract tourism dollars.

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