Brunei officials learned about sharia enforcement in Aceh before implementing death penalty for LGBT: Ulema

An Acehnese man convicted of ‘immoral acts’ prepares for his public caning in Banda Aceh on June 12, 2015. Photo: AFP/Chaideer Mayhuddin

Aceh, the only Indonesian province given special authority to enact sharia laws, has seen numerous instances of human rights violations in their enforcement of their ultra-conservative interpretation of said laws, such as public canings for those caught engaging in premarital and LGBT relations.

Aceh seems to also have had an influence in the making of one of Southeast Asia’s most controversial human rights infringements in Brunei Darussalam, at least according to one of the province’s top ulemas.

The tiny but wealthy kingdom nation yesterday put into effect a new national sharia-based penal code which could see those caught having LGBT relations stoned to death, despite international outcry.

The Aceh Ulema Council (MPU) says Brunei’s new penal code was partly the result of the kingdom’s officials visiting the province to learn about how sharia laws could be implemented.

“Brunei [officials] often came to visit the MPU for discussions. Not just Brunei, but also Malaysia and Thailand. We had discussions and exchanged ideas with them,” MPU Deputy Chairman Teungku Faisal Ali told reporters today, as quoted by Detik.

“We didn’t discuss LGBT specifically, rather the general topic of how Islamic sharia can be implemented to protect the people and to obey the instructions of God.”

Detik noted the existence of a press release from the Aceh government in 2014 detailing such a visit from Brunei officials, in which they learned about the implementation of punishments for violating Aceh’s sharia laws.

In Aceh, LGBT relations are punishable by 100 lashes in accordance to the province’s Qanun Jinayat (Islamic penal code bylaw). According to data released by Indonesia’s Supreme Court today, 373 people were tried in Aceh’s religious courts for morality crimes, which include homosexuality, gambling, sexual harassment, rape and drinking alcohol in 2018.


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