Thai activists protest Brunei’s anti-gay laws

Thai activists protest Brunei’s anti-gay laws
Thai protesters outside the Brunei embassy in Bangkok (Photo: Facebook)

LGBTI rights activists in Thailand protested outside the Brunei Embassy in the capital Bangkok on Tuesday (9 April).

They condemned Brunei’s brutal sharia laws ushered in last week.

The tiny Muslim-majority nation in Southeast Asia now punishes gay sex with death by stoning.

Activists on Tuesday presented a statement signed by 130 civil society groups across Southeast Asia.

About 30 activists waved rainbow flags and presented stones painted with rainbows.

‘We need to come out and speak out’ said independent activist and organizer SirisakChaited. ‘Not  not just for LGBTIQAs+ people in Brunei but for LGBTIQAs+ people all over the world.’
‘When we speak out for human rights in Brunei, we must speak out for human rights everywhere’ SirisakChaited told Gay Star News.

Prasert Wasedue Raman, the official officer of the Brunei Certification Office, met with the activists and accepted the letter, according to Voice TV.

The activists later presented the statement to the Thai representative of a regional human rights commission.

SirisakChaited also said they had hoped more Southeast Asian countries would join the protest.

Legitimizing violence

‘By adopting conservative views of morality and excessive punishments, Brunei essentially legitimizes violence’ the statement said.

The signatories, which include groups from Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, urged Brunei to respect human rights.

Brunei has faced condemnation from international rights groups, the United Nations and western government.

But Southeast Asia, where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a policy of non-interference, has remained quiet.

In fact, some people in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore—which have also witnessed a backlash against LGBTI people—have called for similar laws in these countries.

Thai LGBTI activists gather outside the Brunei embassy in Bangkok (Photo: Facebook)

Thai LGBTI activists gather outside the Brunei embassy in Bangkok (Photo: Facebook)

What is happening in Brunei?

Brunei implemented its latest sharia (or Islamic) laws last week.

Home to fewer than  500,000 people, Brunei is one of the world’s richest countries due to bountiful oil and gas reserves.

The new law includes: Death by stoning for people convicted of sodomy. Public flogging for those convicted of abortions, adultery or rape. The amputation of hands and feet for convicted thieves.

The United Nations condemned them as ‘cruel and inhuman’. But, the sultan has defended his ’sovereign right’.

Celebrities have led a boycott of the Sultan’s business portfolio.

In the UK, a Labour MP also said Brunei should be chucked out of the commonwealth.

For the most part, LGBTI Bruneians are remaining very quiet.

A bisexual man living in the nation’s capital this week said he was ‘confused’.

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Author: Rik Glauert