Canada Condemns Brunei's New Sharia Law Revisions

Sultan Omar Ali Saiduffin Mosque, Kampong Ayer, Brunei [Flickr].

Sultan Omar Ali Saiduffin Mosque, Kampong Ayer, Brunei [Flickr].

The Canadian government was one among many countries to voice its concerns over Brunei’s new anti-LGBTQ+ laws, which came into effect on April 3.

Under Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code, the new laws make homosexual sex and adultery punishable by death.

“Canada is appalled by Brunei's imposition of severe punishments under its new Sharia penal code, which include corporal punishment and the death penalty,” read a statement from Global Affairs Canada. It continued, “We have raised our concerns directly with Brunei and we urge Brunei to suspend the implementation of its new penal code and to make changes to ensure that it is consistent with international human rights obligations.”

Following Brunei’s implementation of its anti-LBTQ+ laws, Global Affairs Canada updated its travelers guide to reflect the fact that the laws apply to foreigners as well as Bruneian citizens. The guide now reads, “Bruneian law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted can face severe penalties, including the death penalty. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Brunei.”

Responding to a tweet from the New York Times, MP Erin O’Toole of the Conservative Party of Canada said, “The new laws in Brunei - particularly those targeting the #LGBTQ community - must be condemned. We stand ready to support the government in this effort & suggest the High Commissioner be summoned to make Canada’s position clear.”

With similar sentiment, MP Randall Garrison from the New Democratic Party in Canada stated, “These actions further marginalize the LGBT community, making violence and death the reality for people living in Brunei.” He continued, “Canada must stand with the United Nations and the many other countries around the world who have condemned this legislation and echo that this is a serious setback for human rights.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s spokesperson also commented on the matter, saying that there are currently no Canadian initiatives to aid those fleeing persecution in Brunei. However, he added, “We work closely with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the selection of refugees to be resettled in Canada, which ensures that cases are properly reviewed and that applicants are being resettled in the country that best suits their circumstances.”