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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Brunei face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Homosexuality is illegal in Brunei. Sexual relations between men are punishable by death or whipping; sex between women is punishable by caning or imprisonment. The sultanate currently has a moratorium in effect on death penalty.[5][2]

Location Brunei ASEAN.svg
PenaltyDeath by stoning (in abeyance), prison, or 100 lashes for men;[1][2][3] maximum 10 year imprisonment or 40 lashes of a cane for women[4]
Gender identityTransgender people not allowed to change sex or name in official documents. Sex reassignment surgery is illegal.
Discrimination protectionsNo
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex unions

OutRight Action International has described Brunei as "the country that has the most worrisome state of rights for LGBT people in Southeast Asia". LGBT Bruneians feel the need to remain very discreet about their sexual orientation.[6]

The Brunei Project, established in 2015, seeks to promote human rights, including religious freedom, free speech, and LGBT rights in Brunei through social media. The group organised a private community event in 2016, celebrating Brunei's first "International Day Against Homophobia" event.[7]

Legality of same-sex sexual activityEdit

Prior to the current law, homosexuality was illegal and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, regardless of whether the act was done in private and consensual. In 2014, Brunei announced it will begin imposing Sharia law.[6][8] It was scheduled to be enacted on 3 April 2019.[9] American actor George Clooney wrote an open letter calling for the boycott of the Sultan of Brunei’s hotels, including The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air.[10][11]

When the move to Sharia Law was announced, the United Nations urged Brunei to review its laws in this area, which has been described by many media outlets as "medieval", "uncivilized" and "a return to the Stone Age".[6][8] Their implementation was delayed until April 2019, after the Sultan declared that these laws should be regarded as "special guidance" from God.[9] Sexual relations between men are punished through death by stoning if they admit it or were seen by four eyewitnesses doing so.[1] Sexual relations between women will be punishable by either being lashed 40 times by a cane or a maximum prison term of 10 years.[4]

LGBT people, as well as the Christian and Buddhist minorities, have been advised by international human rights activists to remain discreet in the country. Anyone caught "tarnishing the image of Islam" is heavily punished.[8]

In May 2019, after widespread international condemnation and media attention, the Brunei government extended its existing moratorium on the death penalty to the Sharia criminal code as well that made homosexual acts punishable with death by stoning.[5][12]

Gender identity and expressionEdit

Brunei does not allow changing one's name or gender on official documents.[13] Sex reassignment surgery is not allowed.[14]

On 11 March 2015, a civil servant was fined $1000 Brunei dollars under the Syariah Penal Code Order for cross-dressing.[15][16]

Living conditionsEdit

The LGBT community in Brunei is very hidden and secret. Bruneian society tends to associate homosexuality with "effeminate men".[17]

In 2011, academics at the University of Brunei made a formal study of gay people in Brunei. The study illustrated how they chose to remain silent and discreet about their sexual orientation. The researchers were only able to find 29 LGBT respondents, some of whom were foreigners.[17] The country had a total population of 411,900 as of 2014.[18]

Human rights reportsEdit

2017 United States Department of State reportEdit

In 2017, the United States Department of State reported the following, concerning the status of LGBT rights in Brunei:

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
"Secular law criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” In July Chapter 22 of the Penal Code Order was amended to increase the minimum sentence for such carnal intercourse to between 20 and 50 years’ incarceration. The amendment was primarily applied in cases of rape or child abuse wherein both attacker and victim are male, because existing law covers only assault of a woman by a man. The SPC bans “liwat” (anal intercourse) between men or between a man and a woman who is not his wife. If implemented, this law would impose death by stoning. The SPC also prohibits men from dressing as women or women dressing as men “without reasonable excuse” or “for immoral purposes.” There were no known convictions during the year.
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community reported unofficial and societal discrimination in public and private employment, housing, recreation, and in obtaining services including education from state entities. LGBTI individuals reported intimidation by police, including threats to make public their sexuality, to hamper their ability to obtain a government job, or to bar graduation from government academic institutions. Members of the LGBTI community reported the government monitored their activities and communications. Events on LGBTI topics were subject to restrictions on assembly and expression. The LGBTI community reported that the government would not issue permits for such events."[19]

Summary tableEdit

Same-sex sexual activity legal  /  (Penalty: Death penalty (commuted by moratorium, moratorium lift could be pending as of 6 May 2019[5]) prison or 100 lashes for men.[3][1][2] Prison or caning for women.[4])
Equal age of consent  
Anti-discrimination laws in employment  
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services  
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)  
Same-sex marriage(s)  
Recognition of same-sex couples  
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples  
Joint adoption by same-sex couples  
LGBT people allowed to serve in the military  
Right to change legal gender  
Access to IVF for lesbians  
Automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth  
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples  
MSMs allowed to donate blood  [20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Brunei implements stoning to death under new anti-LGBT laws
  2. ^ a b c Brunei enacts Islamic laws to punish gay sex with stoning to death — here's what you need to know
  3. ^ a b Brunei won't impose death penalty for gay sex — but it's still illegal
  4. ^ a b c Brunei introduces stoning to death for gay sex, adultery
  5. ^ a b c "Brunei backs down on gay sex death penalty after international backlash". CNN. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Mosbergen, Dominique (15 October 2015). "Brunei's LGBT Community Faces Terrifying Future". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  7. ^ Welcome to IDAHOT Newbies!
  8. ^ a b c Michaelson, Jay (22 April 2014). "Brunei Returns to the Stoning Age". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  9. ^ a b Barnes, Tom (28 March 2019). "LGBT+ people to be stoned or whipped to death in Brunei under new sex law". The Independent. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  10. ^ Westcott, Ben (27 March 2019). "Brunei to punish gay sex and adultery with death by stoning". CNN. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  11. ^ Clooney, George (28 March 2019). "George Clooney: Boycott Sultan Of Brunei's Hotels Over Cruel Anti-Gay Laws". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Brunei death penalty moratorium applied to new Shariah laws".
  13. ^
  14. ^ mmoneymaker (20 June 2017). "LGBTIQ Rights in Southeast Asia - Where We Stand and Pathway Forward". Global LGBT Human Rights Organization | OutRight. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  15. ^ Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun (11 March 2015). "Bruneian civil servant fined $1,000 for cross-dressing". Brunei Times. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Country Profile – Brunei". Human Dignity Trust. 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  17. ^ a b Gay Life in Brunei
  18. ^ "National Statistics". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  19. ^ BRUNEI 2017 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit