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Statement of ASEAN Civil Society Organizations on the Full Enforcement of Sharia Law in Brunei Darussalam

April 3, 2019


We, the undersigned civil society organizations in the ASEAN region, urge the government of Brunei to immediately halt the full implementation of the Sharia Penal Code (SPC).

The said law entails provisions that contradict international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the ASEAN Charter. Brunei has signed and ratified these instruments, and thereby must show commitment to respect, protect and fulfill its obligations.

Moreover, Brunei should recognize the importance of progressive development of human rights therefore moving away from corporal punishment and death penalty.

By enforcing the SPC, Brunei will set a dangerous precedent for its neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia and broader Asia as it perpetuates the practice of violating fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression, in the region.

We acknowledge the Brunei government’s intention to “maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith” being a rationale behind the SPC.

However, there are provisions in the law that provides excessive penalties, including whipping, imprisonment and death penalty, against those who commit adultery, consensual same-sex relations, pregnancy out of wedlock, access to abortion, and acts critical of state-interpretation of Islam.

The SPC inevitably ends up disproportionately targeting those who are already vulnerable and socially marginalised, including women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, the economically disadvantaged, religious minorities, and dissenting voices. The penalties imposed by the law, including whipping and stoning to death, constitutes torture, ill-treatment, and inhumane and degrading punishment. As a consequence, this will further silence dissent, create a culture of fear among its people, and further shrink civic space in the country.

A country that cares for its citizens needs to look out for those more vulnerable to discrimination, violence and injustice, and seek to protect them first.

By adopting conservative views of morality and excessive punishments, Brunei essentially legitimizes violence. The law and its enforcement will encourage extremist and fundamentalist groups in the region to continue sowing fear, social discord and violence. 

We reiterate the commitment of ASEAN Member States Leaders under the ASEAN Community 2025 to realise a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centred community bound by fundamental principles, shared values and norms, in which our peoples enjoy human rights, fundamental freedoms, and social justice. The current situation in Brunei reflects the contrary, and will have negative implication to jeopardise the vision of ASEAN and consequently the identity of ASEAN as a collective region.

We urge Brunei to uphold its name being an “abode of peace”, a society that upholds and respects diversity, where difference is approached with compassion.

We look forward to seeing Brunei become a role model in ASEAN, as the region strives towards the better practices of democracy in partnership with civil society. We hope Brunei will strive to achieve this through the sharing of prosperity and by respecting the equal rights of all.


Human Right Working Group (HRWG)
Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (APA)
Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)
Intersex Asia
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Youth Voices Count (YVC)
ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF)
Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon Development Project (Sangsan), Thailand
LovePattaya, Thailand
Sapaan publishing, Thailand
Health and Opportunity Network, Thailand
Backyard Politics, Thailand
The Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights, Thailand
Diversity Ants, Thailand
Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, Thailand
Togetherness for Equality and Action – TEA, Thailand
Young Pride Club, Thailand
Phayao Youth News Agency, Thailand
Foundation for AIDS Rights, Thailand
Non-binary Thailand
Hinghoy Noy Organization, Thailand
Prism Digital Magazine, Thailand
Thai Network of Youth living with HIV, Thailand
Prayoonsritrang Group, Thailand
TAMTANG GROUP Advocacy for Safe Abortion, Thailand
Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), Thailand
1448 For All (Marriage Equality For All), Thailand
TEAK – Trans Empowerment, Thailand
Thai Positive Women Foundation, Thailand
B Visible Asia
Mplus​ foundation​, Thailand
Namkwan Sky Rainbow Phayao, Thailand
Bangkok Rainbow, Thailand
SAGA Thailand – Sexual and Gender Acceptance
Thai Association of Population and Social Researcher
Sexual Studies Association, Thailand
Women’s Wellbeing and Gender Justice Program, Thailand
Sikhoraphum Youth, Thailand
Pink Mango, Thailand
Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies Indonesia (SGRC UI), Indonesia
Study and Peace (SPACE) UNJ, Indonesia
Diponegoro Gender and Human Rights Center (DipoGHRC), Indonesia
Arus Pelangi, Indonesia
Iloilo Pride Team, Philippines
Bahaghari-Iloilo, Philippines
PELANGI Campaign, Malaysia
PLUHO, People Like Us Hang Out!, Malaysia
UniGEN – Leave no one behind, Vietnam
NYNO – Nam Yeu Nam Organization, Vietnam
NYNA – Nu Yeu Nu Organization, Vietnam
Hoa Thi – The Asterisk, Vietnam
DNP – Working Group for LGBT+ Rights at Dong Nai Province, Vietnam
ERMC – Equal Rights for Minority Communities, Vietnam
Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA), Indonesia
Perkumpulan Inti Muda Indonesia
MyPJ, Malaysia
Justice for Sisters, Malaysia
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Malaysia
Manushya Foundation, Thailand
Beyond Borders, Malaysia
TNP – Working Group for Human Rights at Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam
People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUSOS), Malaysia
Maruah, Singapore
Committee for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
Equal Asia Foundation (EAF)
Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia
Queer Lapis, Malaysia
Art For Grabs, Malaysia
Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), 8Malaysia
Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA), Malaysia
IT’S T TIME Organization, Vietnam (ITT)
PurpleCode Collective, Indonesia
Serikat Jurnalis Untuk Keberagaman (SEJUK), Indonesia
Peace Women Across the Globe (PWAG), Indonesia
Acting for Community Development (ACD TAYNINH), Vietnam
Tay Ninh LGBTQ’S Community, Vietnam
PFLAG Viet Nam
Sanggar Swara, Indonesia
Southeast Rainbow School, Vietnam, Vietnam
LGBTIQ Community VietNam
Sayoni, Singapore
Simply, I am GAY –, Vietnam
Degenderration Confederation, Vietnam
Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists, Malaysia
Inside Out House, Vietnam
LEA, Vietnam
Ychange, Vietnam
CAMASEAN, Cambodia
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (ROCK), Cambodia
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement, Philippines
Ha Noi Queer, Vietnam
Sai Gon Queer, Vietnam
Side B Philippines
NextGEN Hanoi, Vietnam
Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI)
Shepluspride, Singapore
LumiQueer, Vietnam
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
Indigenous Women Network Thailand (IWNT)
6+, Vietnam
Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group, Indonesia
Intersex Philippines
Lighthouse Social Enterprise – Trung tâm Hỗ trợ Cộng đồng Hải Đăng
Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia
Nazariya: A Grassroots LGBT-Straight Alliance from India
Mujer-LGBT Organization Incorporated
BIKIR ALAM, Malaysia
Toffie Is IT Support, Thailand
Spectrum, Thailand
ตุ๊ดส์review, Thailand
Sirisak Chaited, LGBTIQ & Sex Worker Independent Activist, Thailand
Pink Money Organization Sexual Diversity, Thailand
FTM Vietnam Organization
W.A.Y. Up!, Vietnam
Our Journey, Malaysia

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