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

Posted by Alvin John Ballares | Posted on April 4, 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.


  1. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC)
  2. Human Right Working Group (HRWG)
  3. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
  4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  5. Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
  6. Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (APA)
  7. Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)
  8. ILGA Asia
  9. Intersex Asia
  10. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  11. APCOM
  12. Youth Voices Count (YVC)
  13. ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF)
  14. Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon Development Project (Sangsan), Thailand
  15. LovePattaya, Thailand
  16. Sapaan publishing, Thailand
  17. Health and Opportunity Network, Thailand
  18. BUKU CLASSROOM, Thailand
  19. Backyard Politics, Thailand
  20. The Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights, Thailand
  21. Diversity Ants, Thailand
  22. Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, Thailand
  23. Togetherness for Equality and Action – TEA, Thailand
  24. Young Pride Club, Thailand
  25. Phayao Youth News Agency, Thailand
  26. Foundation for AIDS Rights, Thailand
  27. Non-binary Thailand
  28. Hinghoy Noy Organization, Thailand
  29. Prism Digital Magazine, Thailand
  30. Thai Network of Youth living with HIV, Thailand
  31. Prayoonsritrang Group, Thailand
  32. TAMTANG GROUP Advocacy for Safe Abortion, Thailand
  33. Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), Thailand
  34. 1448 For All (Marriage Equality For All), Thailand
  35. TEAK – Trans Empowerment, Thailand
  36. Thai Positive Women Foundation, Thailand
  37. B Visible Asia
  38. Mplus​ foundation​, Thailand
  39. Namkwan Sky Rainbow Phayao, Thailand
  40. Bangkok Rainbow, Thailand
  41. SAGA Thailand – Sexual and Gender Acceptance
  42. Thai Association of Population and Social Researcher
  44. Sexual Studies Association, Thailand
  45. Women’s Wellbeing and Gender Justice Program, Thailand
  46. Sikhoraphum Youth, Thailand
  47. Pink Mango, Thailand
  48. Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies Indonesia (SGRC UI), Indonesia
  49. Study and Peace (SPACE) UNJ, Indonesia
  50. Diponegoro Gender and Human Rights Center (DipoGHRC), Indonesia
  51. Arus Pelangi, Indonesia
  52. Iloilo Pride Team, Philippines
  53. Bahaghari-Iloilo, Philippines
  54. PELANGI Campaign, Malaysia
  55. PLUHO, People Like Us Hang Out!, Malaysia
  56. UniGEN – Leave no one behind, Vietnam
  57. NYNO – Nam Yeu Nam Organization, Vietnam
  58. NYNA – Nu Yeu Nu Organization, Vietnam
  59. Hoa Thi – The Asterisk, Vietnam
  60. DNP – Working Group for LGBT+ Rights at Dong Nai Province, Vietnam
  61. ERMC – Equal Rights for Minority Communities, Vietnam
  62. Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA), Indonesia
  63. Perkumpulan Inti Muda Indonesia
  64. MyPJ, Malaysia
  65. Justice for Sisters, Malaysia
  66. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Malaysia
  67. Manushya Foundation, Thailand
  68. Beyond Borders, Malaysia
  69. TNP – Working Group for Human Rights at Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam
  70. People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUSOS), Malaysia
  71. Maruah, Singapore
  72. Committee for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
  73. Equal Asia Foundation (EAF)
  74. Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
  75. Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia
  76. Queer Lapis, Malaysia
  77. Art For Grabs, Malaysia
  78. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), 8Malaysia
  79. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (QUASSA), Malaysia
  80. IT’S T TIME Organization, Vietnam (ITT)
  81. PurpleCode Collective, Indonesia
  82. Serikat Jurnalis Untuk Keberagaman (SEJUK), Indonesia
  83. Peace Women Across the Globe (PWAG), Indonesia
  84. Acting for Community Development (ACD TAYNINH), Vietnam
  85. Tay Ninh LGBTQ’S Community, Vietnam
  86. PFLAG Viet Nam
  87. Sanggar Swara, Indonesia
  88. Southeast Rainbow School, Vietnam
  89., Vietnam
  90. LGBTIQ Community VietNam
  91. Sayoni, Singapore
  92. Simply, I am GAY –, Vietnam
  93. Degenderration Confederation, Vietnam
  94. Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists, Malaysia
  95. Inside Out House, Vietnam
  96. LEA, Vietnam
  97. Ychange, Vietnam
  98. CAMASEAN, Cambodia
  99. Rainbow Community Kampuchea (ROCK), Cambodia
  100. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), Cambodia
  101. Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement, Philippines
  102. Ha Noi Queer, Vietnam
  103. Sai Gon Queer, Vietnam
  104. Side B Philippines
  105. NextGEN Hanoi, Vietnam
  106. Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI)
  107. Shepluspride, Singapore
  108. LumiQueer, Vietnam
  109. Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
  110. APCASO
  111. Indigenous Women Network Thailand (IWNT)
  112. 6+, Vietnam
  113. Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group, Indonesia

HAPI is on  number 106, taken, with permission,  from

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About The Author

AJ Ballares

Alvin John  Ballares – current Executive Director of HAPI.

HAPI-Mobilizer extraordinaire

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