The UK government‘s official health and safety organization has announced it will stop planned staff secondments to Brunei following its anti-LGBTI laws.
Unions raised red flags over the ethical and safety implications of these temporary transfers after the kingdom quietly introduced its plans to impose the death penalty on queer men.
The Guardian reported today (8 April) that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have ‘paused’ all links to the country, review pending.
The HSE planned to sent a team of three to Brunei to help with an equivalent agency’s admin work.
Internal emails and notices seen by the Guardian showed the organization was roping together the team as late as 4 April; just a day after the tiny southeast Asian sultanate announced it would impose an interpretation of the Shariah penal code.
Brunei itself – a tiny, oil-rich patch of the island of Borneo – has only 430,000 people living there.
Yet, this in no way stopped the immense and continuing condemnation of their absolute ruler, the Sultan of Brunei.
However, the HSE were actively putting together the team to help on a short-term project with Safety, Health, and Environment National Authority in Brunei, called Shena.
The project would ‘help strengthen [the] health and safety regulatory function’ of the Brunei agency, one email said.
An HSE spokeswoman told the Guardian: ‘HSE is an inclusive organisation and strongly supports LGBT+ rights.
‘Any commercial discussions will now be paused while we review the situation.’
Adding their voice
HSE are the latest in a long line of companies and people to boycott Brunei in the wake of their laws.
Similarly, London train network TfL did the same after ads for the airline were spotted by commuters.
While the UN denounced the laws as ‘inhuman’ and ‘draconian.’
Background of Brunei
Rulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional interpretations of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.
In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one the same.
For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.
Sharia Penal Code: In three stages
Back in 2014, Bolkiah announced the Brunei governmental bloc would implement the Sharia Penal Code in three stages.
The first stage of legal reforms was no struggle to lawmakers, but its second and third stages experienced holdups.
However, the Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website officially posted plans to fast-track implementation of the SPC on 29 December 2018.
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