Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Brunei Postpones Death by Stoning Law

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2014 2:09 PM ET

The government of Brunei will postpone the implementation of a law that would allow a sentence of death by stoning for people found guilty of having gay sex, among other offenses including adultery, robbery, and defamation of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sharia law was scheduled to go into effect beginning Tuesday, but the government announced that implementation would be postponed due to "unavoidable circumstances," the The Wall Street Journal reports. Officials have not announced the new implementation date, but Jauyah Md. Zaini of the government's Islamic legal unit said the law would go into effect "in the very near future."

Earlier this month, the United Nations condemned the government for putting such sentencing in place, especially since the small Asian country ended the death penalty in 1957.

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a news conference in Geneva last week.

Colville said that in countries where death by stoning is allowed, it usually leads to more women receiving the sentence, so women, along with sexual minorities, would especially be targeted under the law.

Under Brunei’s constitution, His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah leads all areas of government. The sultan is also the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which has recently been the subject of a boycott in relation to Brunei's pending law.