17 May: Homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty in 12 countries around the world

24 May 2019

After a month of international pressure and boycotts, the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah was speaking for the first time since the entry into force of the new legislation introducing the death penalty by stoning for homosexuality and adultery.

"My country has gone decades without applying the death penalty and will maintain its moratorium on executions," he said on Sunday, calling even for not to worry.
Since then, major media and LGBT associations have been claiming a "backward step".

Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. ECPM sets the record straight.

See more about our campaign "The death penalty is homophobic"


Let us make no mistake about it: these recent statements are not a victory, but an attempt to appease.

  • The moratorium in question has been in force since 1957 on executions (and not on convictions). There was never any question of no longer applying it.
  • Homosexuality is still criminalized in the country and is now more than ever punishable by the death penalty. Convictions are not suspended under any circumstances, on the contrary, they are included in the penal code according to the strictest sharia law.
  • Women who have sex with other women may still be punished by whipping.
  • Today, LGBT people face the death penalty in Brunei and 11 other countries around the world. Same-sex relationships are still illegal in more than 70 countries.

The fight must continue.



In May 2014, new legislation was scheduled to introduce Sharia law in the country, making homosexuality a crime punishable by death, whereas the previous penalty was up to 10 years' imprisonment. This hardening was planned gradually and is expected to reach its final stage in 2019. This revision of the Penal Code may raise fears of a resumption of executions, while a moratorium, the longest observed in the region, has been in place since 1957.



Would you like to discuss this with us? This year, ECPM will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its campaign "The death penalty is homophobic" at the Marche des Fiertés in Paris on Saturday 29 June 2019! To join us, obtain information or become a volunteer, it is already possible to pre-register with Mathilde at mmillier@ecpm.org.