Brunei's New Anti-LGBT Law Slammed as 'Cruel and Inhuman' by U.N. After George Clooney Calls for Boycott

The United Nations has joined the growing chorus of international voices condemning Brunei for its decision to implement new laws that would punish the LGBT community and adulterers with the death penalty.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the change in law, which is set to take place this week, "cruel and inhuman."

"I appeal to the government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented," Bachelet said in a statement.

The changes to Brunei Darussalam’s penal code criminalize activity, such as same-sex acts, that should not be crimes, and allow heinous punishments such as death by stoning and amputation. Brunei must halt plans to implement these vicious punishments.

— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) March 29, 2019

Ruled by an absolute monarch, the wealthy Southeast Asian nation of Brunei plans to implement a severe interpretation of Islamic sharia law. The measures were first announced in 2013, but the country, which has been ruled for 51 years by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, was slow to implement them due to international backlash. Under the strict laws, adultery, sodomy, robbery, rape and insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad would all be punishable by death. Those who are caught having gay sex or committing adultery would be executed by stoning.

Actor George Clooney wrote an op-ed slamming the country over the draconian laws last Thursday, which was published by Deadline Hollywood. In it, Clooney called for boycotting high-end hotels worldwide that are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is controlled by the nation's king.

"Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I've learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can't shame them," the actor wrote. "But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way."

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Brunei researcher at Amnesty International, also criticized the country's decision to implement the harsh laws in an official statement, pointing out that even children could face severe punishments.

"Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its penal code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei's move to put these cruel penalties into practice," said Chhoa-Howard.

I commend my friend, #GeorgeClooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of #Brunei - a place where gay people are brutalized, or worse - by boycotting the Sultan’s hotels.

— Elton John (@eltonofficial) March 30, 2019

"To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself. Some of the potential 'offences' should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender," she continued.

Other celebrities, such as legendary British singer Elton John, joined Clooney and rights groups in condemning Brunei's decision.

"I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right," John wrote on Twitter over the weekend, continuing, "I commend my friend, #GeorgeClooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of #Brunei - a place where gay people are brutalized, or worse - by boycotting the Sultan's hotels."