“Human rights are universal. Cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs, and social attitudes must not be invoked to justify human rights violations against any group regardless of gender or sexual orientation,” (Kanem, N 2019).
The LGBTIQ+ community has faced discrimination for centuries in a range of different forms, oppressing individuals based on their sexual orientation. Statistics from the ‘Australian Human Rights Commission’ (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014) have revealed that:
- 6 in 10 people experience verbal homophobic abuse
- 2 in 10 people experience physical homophobic abuse
- 1 in 10 people experience other types of homophobia
These alarming statistics highlight the prevalence of homophobia within the Australian society and the high frequency in which those that are part of the LGBTIQ+ community face discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
On the 3rd of April the Brunei government imposed a new penal code that includes cruel and barbaric punishments where “under the new laws, those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped” (Liang, A 2019). The new laws implemented by Brunei have further segregated the LGBTIQ+ community, making it now punishable by law to have sexual relations with someone of the same-sex.
The penal code put into place by Brunei violates Article 5 of The Universal Human Rights Declaration in which it states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (United Nations General Assembly, 1948). Brunei’s archaic punishments, in response to engaging in same-sex relations, will result in the LGBTIQ+ community to be forced into the shadows, suppressing their sexual orientation.
Brunei’s new laws have sparked international outrage with the hashtag #boycottbrunei urging people to boycott hotels that are owned by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, and George Clooney have supported the cause, urging fans to also boycott the Sultan’s hotels.
Amnesty International has urged Brunei to revoke their new penal code with Deputy Director of Global Issues, Stephen Cockburn saying that “We are alarmed that the code criminalizes behaviour that should not be considered crimes at all. The international community must continue to condemn Brunei’s decision to put these cruel penalties into practice. The Brunei authorities must refrain from implementing these laws, and must take necessary steps to repeal this unacceptable legislation and bring it in line with international human rights laws and standards (Cockburn, S 2019).
With organisations like Amnesty International and UNAIDS calling for the cessation of these discriminatory laws and the use of social media in voicing societies concerns, we are able to come together to communicate how damaging its implementation will be on individuals. It is important that we continue to speak out against those that violate and deny those their universal rights. In a time where the LGBTQI+ are facing yet another form of discrimination, we need to come together as a collective, supporting our fellow humans, and to let them know that they are not fighting this alone.
- Amnesty.org. (2019).Brunei must halt plans to introduce stonings and other punishments. [online] Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/04/brunei-darussalam-must-immediately-halt-plans-to-introduce-stonings-and-other-vicious-punishments/ [Accessed 7 Apr. 2019].
- Humanrights.gov.au. (2014).Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People | Australian Human Rights Commission. [online] Available at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/face-facts/face-facts-lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-and-intersex-people [Accessed 6 Apr. 2019].
- Liang, A. (2019).Brunei invokes laws allowing stoning for gay sex, adultery. [online] The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/brunei-invokes-laws-allow-stoning-for-gay-sex-adultery/2019/04/03/22df925c-55e7-11e9-aa83-504f086bf5d6_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ffba9e49456e [Accessed 7 Apr. 2019].
- Un.org. (2019).Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [online] Available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ [Accessed 7 Apr. 2019].
- Unaids.org. (2019).UNAIDS and the United Nations Population Fund urge the Government of Brunei Darussalam to repeal new discriminatory and harmful criminal law provisions. [online] Available at: http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2019/april/20190404_brunei [Accessed 6 Apr. 2019].