Gay people are allowed to leave Brunei

In the land of the horror sultan | »Gays and lesbians had better leave Brunei quickly

When the first announcements about the tightening of the law in the Sultanate of Brunei became known in 2013, many gays and lesbians were already thinking of fleeing the oil state. However, some stayed - in the hope that the new laws would never come into force. Their hopes were not confirmed. The tightened Sharia law came into force on Wednesday. Homosexuals face the death penalty by stoning.

"The day when you realize that your neighbors, your family or even the nice old lady who sells you crab pancakes on the roadside no longer sees you as a person and it is okay if you are stoned." This is how a gay man describes Brunei the current situation for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi- & transsexual) in Brunei opposite the BBC.

The news channel CNN was also able to speak to a young gay person in Brunei: "It's gotten really scary," says Khairul. Out of concern for their safety and that of their families, he and others who have spoken out over the phone want to remain anonymous.

Now everything is much worse

“I used to think that I would not be accepted and that my family would drive me out. I thought I was going to be sent to religious consultations so that they could change me, ”said Khairul. "But things are much worse now - because of the stoning for homosexuals." He contemplates leaving the country. “The laws are inhuman. Nobody should have to suffer something like this just because they are homosexual. "

The trans woman Zain fled Brunei at the end of 2018 and sought asylum in Canada. “I wanted to live my life on my own terms, as a woman. I wanted a life without this religious fundamentalism and conservatism, so I left the country, ”she explained. "Under Sharia law, I would have been fined and then imprisoned." She has lived in constant fear since 2013, she said. “I was indoctrinated in religious school, know the laws well. Probably a little better than my friends who are not so religious. "

Women are also disadvantaged

Zain pointed out that it is no longer just the LGBT community that is threatened by the law. "Everyone is affected, women are generally particularly disadvantaged." Because: The new law will in future also punish adultery between heterosexual couples with death by stoning.

► Same-sex sex between women is punished with a maximum penalty of 40 lashes with the stick or up to ten years imprisonment.

Zain encourages other gays, lesbians and transgender people to get out of the country as soon as possible. “I want my LGBT friends to be safe and, if possible, to leave Brunei. It's not a good place, their freedom and their human rights are being taken from them. It's a terrible way of life. "

Shahiran S. Shahrani also fled Brunei in 2018 when he was about to be convicted of a critical Facebook post about the government in October. Shahrani now lives in Vancouver. Only when he came to Canada did he dare to come out as gay. “I never told my family. I always hid it, I always lived in fear that people would find out. "

“Stoning just because you are who you are

Shahrani watched from Canada how the "hideous" laws came into force in his homeland. “I never expected that it would really come to that. I knew that Brunei wanted to enact sharia legislation in the country; I've been expecting it since I was a child, but I just can't imagine living under this Sharia law. Being gay was difficult enough in Brunei before, ”he said. "It's hard to understand that you can now be stoned to death just because you are who you are," Shahrani said.

Governments and activists around the world continue to urge Brunei to reverse its decision. So far unsuccessful.