The Department of Foreign Affairs has revised its travel advice for Irish people visiting Brunei, warning travellers of the harsh punishments meted out under the nation’s sharia penal code.
Under Brunei’s new criminal code, effective since Wednesday, April 3, adultery, gay sex and abortion can be punished with death by stoning. Lesbian sex is to be punished with lashes of a whip, while thieves face amputation of hands or feet.
The introduction of these laws makes Brunei the first country in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia criminal code at the national level, joining a number of Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia. The same punishments apply whether the person found guilty is a native of Brunei or a visitor, and whether or not he or she is Muslim.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice for Brunei, writing under the headings of Security Status and Emergency Contacts:
“We advise Irish citizens visiting Brunei Darussalam to take normal precautions. However, 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). Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Brunei, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency.
“However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Singapore. We suggest you learn as much as you can about Brunei before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books.
“The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Brunei, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.”
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the Department highlighted the role of Irish Consulates and embassies in promoting LGBT+ rights abroad. Irish diplomats “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,” said a spokesperson. “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.”
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