New Anti-LGBT Laws Passed in Brunei


Mary Kate Machi, Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah passed a number of anti-LGBT laws that make members of the LGBT community in Brunei liable to both physical and legal punishment.

Before these laws, homosexuality was illegal, and the punishment was up to 10 years in prison. Now, some of the even worse penalties include years in prison, a certain number of strikes with a cane, fines, amputation, whipping, and — for the highest offenses — death.

Since the passing of these laws, many people have stepped up in defense of the human rights that they take away from Brunei’s citizens.

“Brunei’s penal code is a deeply flawed piece of legislation containing a range of provisions that violate human rights,” said  Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Brunei researcher at Amnesty International.

Even some celebrities have commented on the issue, including Ellen DeGeneres, who told people to “rise up” and called for a boycott of the numerous hotels around the world that Sultan Hassanal owns, saying that “we need to do something now.”

The United Nations also disapproved of the legislation, calling it “cruel, inhumane, and degrading” and a “serious setback” for human rights protection worldwide.

[Anti-LGBT laws] tell someone that being LGBT is wrong — it changes their mental state and they have to hide and it’s not healthy for anyone, really, in that circumstance,” said Lindsay Craft (‘21).

Under legislation such as the one in Brunei, members of the LGBT community are forced to choose: either hide and repress who they are, or show their true colors and possibly be killed for it. It’s not a simple decision to make.

“Having legal rights for people is super super important, it reminds you that you are valid and that people, lawmakers, and people in charge see you as valid and see your community as important,” said Amanda Cooper (‘21).

Thankfully, we at Amador live in a place and time when we have the right to be who we are, even though other parts of the world may not.

“It’s important to understand how lucky and privileged we are to live in a place that accepts the LGBT community, but at the same time we have to continue to fight for equality, not just in the United States but all over the world, so everyone is accepted and treated fairly like they should because there’s still a long way to go,” said Cooper (‘21).