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Other countries that impose the death penalty for same-sex sexual conduct – including Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia – are not subjected to similar global condemnation.The United Nations may stand a better chance of curbing Brunei’s behavior.There is concern that Brunei’s imposition of hard-line Sharia will embolden its Muslim majority neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, to follow suit.

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That would prevent Brunei from participating in group meetings and events – including the popular Commonwealth Games, which have been described as “sport with a social conscience.” This step was previously taken in response to grave human rights violations committed by Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Over 100 LGBTQ and human rights groups from Southeast Asia have also called on the Association of South East Asian Nations – ASEAN, a regional intergovernmental organization – to take a hard line against member state Brunei, saying its new laws “legitimize violence.” But ASEAN’s non-binding 2012 declaration of human rights – which does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and contains imprecise language that significantly dilutes its power – seems unlikely to demand an institutional response.

Under Brunei’s new laws, gay sex and adultery can result in death by stoning, and having an abortion is punishable by public flogging.

Dressing in clothing associated with a different sex may incur a fine and imprisonment up to three months.

Younger children can be whipped for these offenses.

These laws represent serious breaches of international human rights law, my field of academic expertise.The sultan may also be seeking to rehabilitate his reputation as a “party boy.” “This is obviously not coming from a place of religious devotion, since the sultan himself is in violation of every single rule of Sharia you could possibly imagine,” religious scholar Reza Aslan told the New York Post in 2014, when the sultan first flagged his intention to impose strict Islamic law in Brunei.Perhaps the Sultan thinks that implementing Sharia will enable him to leave a religious legacy that outweighs his decades of very public excess and indulgence.That’s what happened in Uganda in 2014, when President Yoweri Museveni introduced some of the word’s toughest anti-gay laws.“I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose,” he said. This is our country.” This risk is compounded by the evident double standard of an international boycott of Brunei and the sultan’s businesses.For one, they can cause the offending government to harden its position to show it will not give in to foreign pressure.

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