Petition Ask the Commonwealth of Nations to expel Brunei

The UK Government should ask the Commonwealth to expel Brunei for making homosexuality a crime punishable by being stoned to death. We urge the UK Government to openly condemn this barbaric and regressive legislation and use its influence to have Brunei expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations.

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Government responded

This response was given on 23 April 2019

Our deep concerns about Brunei’s Sharia punishments, including the impact on LGBT people, are best addressed through dialogue. Brunei must uphold its human rights commitments and Commonwealth values.

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It is appalling that in the 21st Century people are still facing persecution and discrimination – everyone should be free to be who they are and love who they want. We urge Brunei to uphold its international human rights obligations, and to respect individual freedoms.

Brunei is one of several Commonwealth countries that impose corporal and capital punishments, and one of a number that criminalises homosexual acts. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and oppose any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The UK regularly encourages Brunei, as with many other countries, to remove corporal and capital punishments from their statutes, and to protect LGBT rights. We will continue to do so.

We encourage all Commonwealth partners to protect and promote the values in the Commonwealth Charter, including its opposition to all forms of discrimination. The Commonwealth Charter states that members are “opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds”. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last year, the Prime Minister made clear that nobody should face persecution or discrimination because of who they are or whom they love, and that the UK stands ready to support any Commonwealth country wanting to reform legislation that makes such discrimination possible.

Using UK funding, the Equality & Justice Alliance is working to create a fairer, more equal and more inclusive Commonwealth for the LGBT community and, more widely, for women and girls. The project involves creating a cross-Commonwealth network and high-level champions, and the alliance is offering technical assistance with the reform of laws that discriminate against, or fail to protect, women and girls and LGBT individuals. The Commonwealth Equality Network, which on Monday 8 April released a statement on the situation in Brunei, consists of over 50 organisations representing 40 countries from all Commonwealth regions. The government supports, and greatly values its work to end discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

We do not support boycotts, expulsions or bans. Our concerns are best addressed through persistent dialogue and diplomacy. We have already engaged extensively with Brunei bilaterally and will also discuss our concerns in the context of our shared values as members of the Commonwealth.

We frequently raise this issue within the Commonwealth. The Foreign Secretary plans to attend the next Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which is currently chaired by Kenya. We are a member by virtue of being Chair-in-Office. CMAG provides a space for sensitive discussions, which in turn allows for discreet engagement, including through the good offices of the Secretary General. The Minister for the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, spoke to the Secretary General of Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, on 4 April. The Secretary General is already in contact with the Government of Brunei and is working through bilateral and Commonwealth channels.

The UK has also raised the issue directly with the Government of Brunei. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Asia and the Pacific met Brunei’s Foreign Minister Dato Erywan and Finance Minister Dato Amin Liew in London on 11 April. Ahead of this meeting, the Foreign Secretary spoke to Brunei’s Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dato Erywan, on 4 April in order to express the UK’s deep concern over Brunei’s decision to implement the final phases of the Sharia Penal Code.

The Minister for Asia and the Pacific raised UK concerns about hudud punishments with the Sultan during his visit to Brunei Darussalam in August 2018. He wrote to Dato Erywan on 29 March to explain his concerns and he delivered a statement to the House of Commons on 4 April addressing the implications of Brunei’s decision. Additionally, the British High Commissioner in Bandar Seri Begawan is currently in daily contact with the Government of Brunei to discuss our concerns, and Foreign Office officials have met Brunei’s High Commissioner.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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