Brunei says syariah law not meant to discriminate

19-year-old transgender refugee Zoella Zayce fled to Canada in 2018 from Brunei, which this month introduced the death penalty for homosexuality.
Brunei Foreign Affairs Minister II Erywan Pehin Yusof said the outcry over the Syariah Penal Code Order "is due to a lack of understanding about the law and Brunei culture". He sent a letter to the United Nations this week responding to criticism of
Brunei Foreign Affairs Minister II Erywan Pehin Yusof said the outcry over the Syariah Penal Code Order "is due to a lack of understanding about the law and Brunei culture". He sent a letter to the United Nations this week responding to criticism of the law, stressing that the law aims to "educate, deter, rehabilitate and nurture rather than to punish".PHOTO: RUDOLF PORTILLO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Govt urges critics to hold back and observe how new legislation is implemented

Amid a global uproar over Brunei's move to implement syariah law, the country's government is stressing that the new legislation is not meant to discriminate, urging critics to hold back and see how it is implemented.

In a series of interviews with The Straits Times in Bandar Seri Begawan this week, Brunei's second foreign minister, attorney-general, religious affairs minister and mufti issued a full-throated defence of the law - for the first time sharing details of how it works and the government's rationale for it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2019, with the headline 'Brunei says syariah law not meant to discriminate'. Print Edition | Subscribe