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Brunei's Antigay Laws Are Too Much Even for Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei
Ted Cruz and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei

The notoriously homophobic senator has condemned Brunei's plan to punish gay sex with death by stoning.

Brunei's new law punishing gay sex and adultery with death by stoning is drawing condemnation even from one of America's leading homophobes, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Cruz, who opposes marriage equality, supports restrictions on transgender people's public restroom use, and has endorsed the right of business owners to turn away LGBTQ people, tweeted Thursday that the Brunei law is "barbaric."

He followed Friday with a tweet joining actor and LGBTQ ally George Clooney in calling for a boycott of the luxury hotels owned by the Dorchester Collection, a company controlled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

The sultan of the small, oil-rich Southeast Asian nation began imposing aspects of Islamic religious law into the country's legal system in 2014. New provisions of the legal code going into effect this Wednesday will include many inhumane penalties. People who have sex with a person of the same gender and women who have sex outside of marriage can be stoned to death -- and a thief will be punished by having a hand or foot amputated.

Such penalties are often called part of "Sharia law," which some scholars of Islam say is a misnomer. Sharia is a set of religious guidelines, not a legal system. It does lay out harsh punishments for certain crimes, but they are a small part of Sharia, scholars say -- and progressive Muslim activists say those aspects of Sharia are subject to human interpretation, and punishments like these have no place in modern society.

In a commentary on Deadline, Clooney wrote of Brunei's new laws, "In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone."

Elton John has also joined in the call for a boycott.

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