Posted by News Express | 8 April 2019 | 818 times
Brunei's new law punishing homosexual sex with death by stoning has sent a wave of fear across the LGBT population in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia.
On April 3, the small oil-rich kingdom of Brunei introduced a strict Islamic legal code mandating death for adultery and sex between men, as well as lashes for lesbian sex and amputation for crimes like theft.
It has sparked a tide of condemnation from Western nations and celebrities alike. UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on April 1 described the laws as "draconian" and a setback for human rights.
But across Brunei's border in Indonesia and Malaysia, both Muslim-majority countries, there has been official silence.
The lack of response from the prominent Southeast Asian leaders is likely to fuel concerns about the rise of conservative Islam in the region and the consequences for sexual and religious minorities.
In recent years, conservative Muslim groups have become a powerful force in the region, pushing for closer adherence to the more rigid of Islamic values and intimidating national governments.
In one Indonesian province, gay people have been publicly shamed and caned. A Christian governor of Jakarta was thrown in jail on blasphemy charges. And in March, Malaysia's tourism minister claimed there were no gay people in his country.
Malaysian LGBT rights campaigner Thilaga Sulathireh said the immediate reaction among the gay community was concern the crackdown could spread.
"All these things are creating a lot of fear for people and a lot of uncertainty," she said. "What's going to happen to our lives and our future?"
CNN reached out to both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments for comment.
As of Friday, there had been no official comment on the laws from either Indonesian President Joko Widodo or Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad. (CNN)
•Muslim protesters pray as they burn an effigy during an anti-LGBT rally in Banda Aceh, Friday, February 2.
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