The tiny oil-rich nation of Brunei implemented a particularly brutal version of sharia law this week under which men who engage in gay sex or adultery or women who have abortions may be stoned to death. Lesbians may be whipped and imprisoned. People who steal may have their limbs hacked off.
It’s difficult to believe such barbaric and anachronistic punishments still exist in the 21st century, and that they’re being applied, in most of these cases, to behavior that shouldn’t be considered criminal in the first place. Brunei, a country in Southeast Asia with fewer than half a million people, is not the only nation that interprets Islamic law to allow for the execution of homosexuals or adulterers. So do Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, among others. But even those countries don’t employ such heinous punishments. Stonings are rare.
This new law ought to be reversed before it is enforced. There has been a forceful outcry from around the world. The United Nations, perhaps stating the obvious, said that stoning people and chopping off their body parts amounts to torture and a violation of basic human rights. Human rights organizations and world leaders have called on Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to immediately halt implementation of the order. Celebrities including George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John have joined the fray, urging people to boycott hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air as well as establishments in London, Paris and Rome.
Too bad the voice of President Donald Trump was not among the throng of critics. Not even a quick tweet, though his thumbs were otherwise busy all week as he commented on topics as varied as Puerto Rico’s ungratefulness to him and the border crisis he insists is underway.
Instead, the administration has been oddly quiet on Brunei other than a weak statement issued by the State Department on Tuesday that said “Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the sharia Penal Code and associated penalties runs counter to its international human rights obligations, including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Really? That’s awfully brief and tame from an administration that just weeks ago promised a global campaign to go after countries that criminalize gay people.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES