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Brunei Will Now Punish Gay Sex With Death By Stoning

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  • A new law in Brunei set to go into effect on April 3 will allow gay sex and adultery to be punished by public stonings.
  • The law is part of the country’s Sharia Penal Code, which was first announced in 2013 by Brunei’s sultan, who has full executive control over the country and who has been increasingly mandating severe laws under Islamic rule.
  • The Penal Code will allow theft to be punished by amputation.

Brunei’s New Law

Brunei is facing backlash over a new law that will begin punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning people to death in public.

The law, which becomes effective on April 3, comes as part of the country’s new Sharia Penal Code, which also includes a provision allowing amputation as a punishment for theft.

While Sharia law is an Islamic legal system, the Penal Code applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, though Muslims make up about two-thirds of Brunei’s population, which is approximately 430,000 people.

The law also applies to children and foreigners.

Amnesty International criticized the law and called on Brunei to stop their plans to implement it.

“Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations.” Amnesty International’s Brunei Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a press release, “The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”

Chhoa-Howard also stated that “Some of the potential ‘offences’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

Sharia Penal Code

The new Penal Code was first announced in 2013 by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, with the intention of bolstering the influence of Islam in the country.

The Sultan has full executive power over Brunei and has held the throne since 1967. He is one of the richest leaders in the world with a personal wealth of about $20 billion, thanks to Brunei’s oil wealth.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Source: Wikipedia

Bolkiah received a wide array of global criticism when he first started the gradual implementation of the Penal Code in 2014.

Amnesty International released a statement criticizing the Penal Code as “a dangerous step backwards for human rights.”

Many people called for boycotts and divestment from some of the country’s sovereign wealth fund investments, including the upscale Beverly Hills Hotel, which attracted protests and celebrity boycotts.

The international outrage did delay the sultan from carrying out the most extreme provisions of the law.

However, now the country appears to be going ahead with the more severe measures, and they are doing so very quietly.

Back in December, Brunei’s attorney general released an announcement stating that the law was to go into effect. This was done so covertly that news organizations did not even pick up on it until recently.

Brunei’s History of Human Rights Abuses

While this new law certainly represents a dramatic and violent change, it is not entirely out of line with Brunei’s legal system historically.

Brunei was a British colony until 1984, and homosexuality has been illegal in the country since colonial rule. However, homosexuality was previously punished with prison time, not death.

Over the last few years, Brunei has become increasingly more conservative in its practice of Islamic rule than its Muslim-majority neighbors, like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Source: Google Maps

For example, Brunei has banned the sale of alcohol. Pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Friday are also punishable by fines or jail time.

While Brunei is one example of an extreme, they are by no means alone in these kinds of violent practices towards gay people.

According to a 2019 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, consensual same-sex acts are still criminalized in 70 U.N. member nations. Additionally, gay sex-acts can be punished by death in at least 10 nations, not including Brunei.

Trump Administration’s Efforts

Back in February, the Trump Administration announced that it was launching a global campaign to push countries to decriminalize homosexuality.

The announcement was met with reports that argued the effort may have been inspired by the public hanging of a 31-year-old man in Iran who was killed on charges under the country’s anti-gay laws.

Many criticized the announcement as a political ploy to disparage Iran, while others condemned Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights.

Trump for his part seemed to not know about the effort when asked about it in a separate press conference following the announcement. It is also still unclear exactly what the the administration plans on doing to decriminalize homosexuality.

See what others are saying: (Amnesty International) (The Guadian) (The New York Times)

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English Soccer Players Boycott Social Media for 24 Hours

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  • English soccer players are boycotting social media until 9:00 a.m. local time Saturday.
  • The purpose of the boycott is to take a stand against the racism that players are experiencing during games and online.
  • Teams like Manchester United have expressed support, as well as FIFA and retired player David Beckham.

Soccer Players Log Off Social Media

Professional soccer players in England are taking a stand against racism by boycotting social media for 24 hours.

The boycott began at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and will end on Saturday at 9:00 a.m local time. This boycott is part of a campaign by the Professional Footballer’s Association. The organization is using #Enough in response to recent incidents of racism both on and off the field.

“The boycott is the first step in a longer campaign to tackle racism in football,” the PFA said in a statement on their site. “The PFA will continue to work closely with The FA and government to ensure more is done to tackle racist abuse, while also seeking to put pressure on both FIFA and UEFA through FIFPro.”

Right before going offline, several players, as well as PFA, posted this image on Twitter and Instagram announcing why they would be taking a brief break from the sites. Many reported the caption, “We recognise that our platforms come with responsibility, and so we are using our voice to stand against racist abuse. Together, we are calling on social media platforms and footballing bodies to do more!”

Racism in Soccer

In the past couple of months, players have reported hearing people make racist remarks from the stands and online. Some of the comments include spectators making monkey noises, and being told to “go back” to their country.”

“My teammates and I have been on the receiving end of well documented abuse from a minority of narrow-minded, ignorant people both on social media and on the pitch,” said Troy Deeny, a captain for Watford, who is participating in the boycott. “Any racism in football is too much, and it’s essential that we fight it wherever and whenever we see it.”

Other players participating include Gini Wijnaldum, Jesse Lingard, Hector Bellerin, Lucas Perez, Marcus Rashford, and Alexander Iwobi.

Support for the Movement

FIFA has announced that they are supporting the movement. The organization, which has come under fire itself for not doing enough to combat racism in soccer, gave a statement applauding the players participating.

“We support the initiative of the PFA,” the statement read. “FIFA is fully engaged in combating racism and any form of discrimination not only in football but society in general.”

The organization also said that it is preparing its own campaign against discrimination.

Manchester United is also trying to take strides in fighting discrimination in the sport. While the team’s account is not participating in the boycott, it has retweeted the accounts of its players who are.

The team also posted this video where male and female players outlined instances of discrimination. They are using the phrase #AllRedAllEqual to spread awareness.

“Football is going through a time where we’re still seeing discrimination throughout our game,” the players in the video say. “There’s just no place for that. It’s ignorant.”

David Beckham also posted his support for the boycott. The former soccer superstar shared the “Enough” photo on his Instagram and posted it to his story as well.

See what others are saying: (ESPN) (BBC Sport) (TIME)

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Teen Burned Alive After Accusing Principal of Sexual Harassment

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  • An 18-year-old-girl in Bangladesh accused her principal of sexual harassment.
  • An Officer filmed her accusation without her consent and leaked the video online.
  • After refusing to take back her allegations, supporter’s of the principal murdered her by setting her on fire on campus.
  • Organizations are demanding justice, and for sexual assault laws in the country to change.

Nusrat’s Murder

Several organizations are demanding justice after an 18-year-old victim of sexual harassment was burned alive.

Nusrat Jahan Rafi studied at an Islamic school, called a madrasa, in Feni, Bangladesh. She met with the principal of the madrasa, Siraj Ud Duala, on March 27. Nusrat claimed that he repeatedly touched her inappropriately until she finally was able to leave the room. She reported the incident to police that same day.

The officer she reported the harassment to had recorded a video of her allegations without her consent and posted it online. In the recording, she is crying and tells Officer Moazzem Hossain that this is not the first time Siraj had made unwanted and inappropriate advances on her. According to translations by the Dhaka Tribune, Moazzem tells her these accusations are “nothing major.”

On April 6, Siraj’s supporters attacked Nusrat, and were allegedly encouraged to do so by Siraj. Four unidentified individuals took her to the roof of one of the madrasa’s administrative buildings and set her on fire after she refused to take back her allegations.

About 80 percent of her body was covered in severe burns. After spending four days in Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Nusrat died. According to the BBC, police have arrested 15 people, including Siraj, people potentially related to her murder, and people involved in protests on-campus in support of Siraj. Officer Moazzem has been transferred. There are also reports that he is being sued under the Digital Security Act for posting a video of Nusrat without her consent.

The Fight for Justice

Several organizations are fighting for justice. The Human Rights Campaign has called for a full investigation to be made into Nusrat’s murder. In a statement, they said this crime should “spur the authorities to take concerted action to combat sexual violence in the country.”

Transparency International Bangladesh also released a statement, asking that Officer Moazzem specifically be investigated by the Department of Justice for not doing enough about the case.

“We are scared of the allegation raised over inaction of the respective police officer and his connivance in the incident centering the brutal killing,” the statement read.

Thousands of people attended Nusrat’s funeral, and protests are being held all over the country demanding justice, and for laws regarding sexual assault in the country to change.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has responded to Nusrat’s murder.

“None of the culprits will be spared from legal action,” she said during a meeting with Nusrat’s family.

Sexual Assault Cases in Bangaldesh

Bangladesh does not have a strong history of punishing sexual abusers. A human rights organization in the country said there were 732 reported cases of rape in 2018, though they say the number is likely much higher, as a culture of blame encourages women to not report. Of those cases, just over 500 had cases filed.

In Bangladesh, there is also a clause in the Evidence Act of 1872 that states: “When a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character.” This allows the defense to use the reputation of the victim against them, and potentially defame them to clear the defendant of charges.

See What Others Are Saying: (Dhaka Tribune) (Daily Star) (BBC)

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North Korea Tests Weapons, Wants Pompeo Out of Nuclear Talks

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  • North Korea conducted its first weapons test since Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump met in February.
  • It is unclear what kind of weapon was tested, but it is not believed to have been nuclear.
  • A Director General in North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced that the country no longer wants to negotiate with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • In a statement, the Director General said they wished to work with someone “more mature.”

North Korea Conducts Weapons Test

North Korean state media announced Thursday that the country tested a new weapon, and no longer wants to conduct nuclear talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Korean Central News Agency announced that Kim Jong Un “supervised and guided a test-fire of a new-type tactical guided weapon conducted by the Academy of Defence Science on Wednesday.” This is the first known test the country has conducted since President Donald Trump met with Kim in February. The two did not reach any deals on nuclear negotiations.

While KCNA did not specifically say the type of weapon that was tested, the New York Times reports that there are no signs it was a nuclear weapon or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

According to their statement, Kim thought the test was “great work.”

“Our scientists, technicians and workers are, indeed, great,” KCNA added. “And there is no weapon impossible to make when they are determined to do.”

The White House reported to multiple news outlets that they are aware of the test, but gave no additional comments.

Pompeo Cut Off From Negotiations

After publishing the news of their test, KCNA also announced that, going forward, they do not want to discuss nuclear negotiations with Pompeo. The news came from a statement from North Korea’s Director General of the Department of American Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kwon Jong Gun.

In his statement, Kwon said that Pompeo made “reckless remarks,” talked “nonsense,” showed his “mean character” and accused him of “fabricating stories.”

“We cannot be aware of Pompeo’s ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks,” Kwon said. “Whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly or just pretending on purpose.”

At the end of his statement, Kwon concluded that he wants to work with not with Pompeo, but with someone “who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”

North Korea’s decision on Pompeo follows comments the Secretary of State made during testimony to a Senate subcommittee. When asked if he would consider Kim a “tyrant,” Pompeo responded, “I’m sure I’ve said that.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (BBC) (Fox News)

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