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Asia

Sultan halts Brunei's gay sex stoning law

media The sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, announcing plans to shelve sharia law in the wake of international outrage. AFP

Following international outcry, Brunei's sultan has announced that death by stoning for gay sex and adultery will not be enforced. Critics have called for harsh sharia laws to be abandoned entirely.

Speaking on Sunday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said a moratorium on capital punishment which already applies to Brunei's criminal laws would also extend to its new sharia code, which includes death by stoning for various crimes.

The code, which punishes theft with the amputation of hands and feet, came into force last month in the small sultanate on the island of Borneo. Under the now-suspended law, those found guilty of homosexual sex and adultery faced being stoned to death.

The introduction of the legislation sparked anger from governments and rights groups, the United Nations slammed it as a "clear violation" of human rights.

Celebrities led by actor George Clooney called for a worldwide boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels. 

Some crimes in Muslim-majority Brunei, including murder and drug-trafficking, were already punishable with death by hanging under the regular criminal code – which is enforced alongside the sharia code – but no one has been executed for decades.

Hassanal said: "We have practised a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law.

"This will also be applied to cases under the sharia penal code."

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