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Ireland revises travel advice to Brunei after harsh sharia laws are implemented

The new laws include death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, and amputation of hands and feet for thieves.

Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has said that it has revised its travel advice for Brunei-Darussalam after it implemented harsh new sharia laws on Wednesday.

The new laws introduced by the tiny nation on the island of Borneo, which is located in the South China Sea, include death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, and amputation of hands and feet for thieves.

The laws have made Brunei the first country in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level, joining several mostly Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.

It has sparked international outrage, with celebrities and other prominent figures calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels in protest against the laws.

Brunei is ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah who owns the Brunei Investment Agency which includes The Dorchester Hotel in its portfolio of luxury hotels.

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that it would be updating its travel advice for Brunei “based on changes to its criminal code that came into force on 3 April”.

A spokesperson for the Department said that after “the introduction of severe punishments for certain crimes, including some that are not offences in Ireland”, that the Irish government had revised its travel advice (which can be found here). 

The new advice states:

…We strongly recommend that Irish citizens familiarise themselves with and observe local law and customs before visiting Brunei, including shariah/syariah/sharia law. 
Most laws under Common Law and the Sharia Criminal Code apply to all people in Brunei, regardless of nationality or religion and penalties can be very severe (including the death penalty).

The Department also said that Irish Consulates and embassies overseas “…advocate for the rights of LGBTI+ persons, including advocating for the decriminalisation of homosexuality where it exists and against its criminalisation where this is contemplated”.

Our diplomatic network also actively supports LGBTI+ rights by participating in Gay Pride parades and similar events across the world and offering support to LGBTI+ civil society organisations.

According to figures from the UK government, around 13,000 British nationals visit Brunei every year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regularly reviews its travel advice based on the reports from Irish missions, local contacts, EU partners and a wide range of other sources.

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