You don’t hear a lot of news out of the nation of Brunei. Your average schmoe probably forgets it exists, if he even knew it in the first place.
Brunei is tiny and on the other side of the world. The population is only 430,000 people, which is fewer than the number living in Miami or Virginia Beach. Brunei actually owns a cattle farm in Australia that’s larger than Brunei.
Brunei is on the north coast of the island of Borneo, which is also occupied by portions of Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s classified as a developed country and has the second highest Human Development Index among southeast Asian nations after Singapore. Wealthy from oil production, it’s ranked fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita and is only one of two nations with public debt at zero percent of the national GDP. It’s an absolute monarchy ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is also the prime minister. One of the richest men in the world, the Sultan is said to own the world’s largest home and the biggest collection of rare cars. This economic, industrialized powerhouse is governed by Sharia Law and starting this week, the punishment for gay sex between men is death by stoning.
Sharia is Islamic law based on the Quran and other writings, though interpretations can vary widely. A statement from the Sultan’s office says, “Sharia, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam. also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.” I guess under Brunei’s Sharia Law, sexual orientation isn’t a “legitimate” right.
Brunei hasn’t executed anyone since 1957, but they’re pretty excited by the stoning idea. It will also apply as punishment for extramarital sex, anal sex, abortion, rape and some forms of blasphemy or heresy, like ridiculing the Quran or insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Theft and some other crimes will be punished merely by chopping off hands and feet. While dude-on-dude sex is death by stoning, lesbian sex will “only” be punished with 40 lashes.
Celebrities like George Clooney, Elton John, and Ellen DeGeneres have called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by Brunei, which includes the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and the Dorchester in London. There are also calls to boycott Shell as they’re in the oil production business with Brunei. Maybe Brunei can look for foreign investment elsewhere.
Chick-fil-A was denied from operating in airports this week in Buffalo and San Antonio over their anti-LGBTQ positions and support for hate groups. Conservatives are calling this religious discrimination, ignoring that Chick-fil-A has donated millions to groups that discriminate against gays and lesbians, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home, and the Salvation Army, which it says “spread an anti-LGBTQ message,” and teach that homosexuality is a sin. It’s also given to Exodus International, which supports gay conversion therapy, and the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. Conservatives argue that the SPLC’s hate group ratings can’t be trusted because they’re biased against hate groups.
Chick-fil-A’s president and CEO Dan Cathy stated on a radio show in 2012, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Do you know where else they’re worried about God’s judgment on their nation? Brunei. With Buffalo and San Antonio not working out for the homophobic chicken people, perhaps they could tempt the Sultan with some new and exciting franchising opportunities.
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