Brunei Semantics on Brutal New Law: It's Not 'Punishment'

Stoning to death those who cheat, have gay sex is 'prevention' meant to 'nurture': foreign minister
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2019 11:20 AM CDT
Brunei Semantics on Brutal New Law: It's Not 'Punishment'
In this April 23, 2013, photo, a child walks near Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, one of the landmarks in Brunei.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

A controversial Sharia law recently put into effect in Brunei, in which it's mandated that people who cheat on their spouses or men who have gay sex are stoned to death, isn't meant as punishment, the Muslim-majority nation's foreign minister is now saying—it's simply a preventative measure. "Its aim is to educate, deter, rehabilitate, and nurture rather than to punish," Erywan Yusof said in response to a UN complaint about the "cruel and inhuman" law, which went into effect on April 3 in the tiny Southeast Asian country, per the BBC. Yusof also insists the law would likely rarely come into play, as a substantial amount of evidence would be required to trigger the penalty, and because no fewer than two men of "high moral standing and piety" would need to witness the most severe cases.

It would be "[extremely] difficult" to find such a man "in this day and age," Yusof says. Lesbians suffer more lenient consequences if they're convicted of having gay sex: They'll get 40 whacks with the cane, and/or up to 10 years behind bars. Amputation is also a possibility. Yusof's statement, however, says this law that criminalizes adultery and sodomy isn't meant to be discriminatory against anyone's sexual orientation, but is simply "to safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage of individual Muslims, particularly women." Although the New York Times reported last month that the law would apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims, Reuters notes that Yusof's statement now indicates non-Muslims would not be affected by the law. (More Brunei stories.)

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