A few weeks back, I shared a link on my Tumblr to a Guardian article about the new anti-LGBT laws in Brunei. Unlike any other content I seem to share there, the post was re-shared massively and I was pretty pleased something meaningful was doing the round.
Yet in the weeks since, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: people sharing the post only to attempt to excuse Brunei’s bigoted laws and explaining how they’re not as bad as we all think.
Others have flat out cheered for Brunei, using the #IstandwithBrunei hashtag to make their vile points. I know I shouldn’t be surprised there are masses of bigoted pricks out there; I suppose I’m just disappointed so many of them appear to be so young.
They’re attempting to excuse Brunei via a selection of ill thought out tactics:
- “Brunei inherited its anti-LGBT legislation from the UK”
- “The law prevents this lifestyle from spreading AIDS”
- “The laws are quite specific and nobody will be executed”
Just a few of the unbelievable points I’ve read in the last week. Some of this ‘dancing on the head of a pin’ type theological argument missing the obvious point – religious beliefs trumping human rights.
And yes, Brunei isn’t the only country with anti-LGBT laws on the books and definitely not the only one that inherited anti-gay laws from the British Empire. However, so did India and it has liberalised its statutes. So did Ireland and it passed equal marriage via public referendum.
This Brunei development isn’t about depriving LGBT people of their opportunities or their rights. It’s about ending their lives in the most barbaric manner possible. I’m incredulous anyone vaguely educated could feel this is in any way appropriate or deserved.
But bigotry isn’t rational.
By drawing attention to the brutality of these developments in Brunei, I’m in no way excusing the anti-LGBT rules of any other country in the world. I’m not ignoring anyone else’s track record – Saudi Arabia, anyone? I have no problem in calling out the disgusting attitudes in any number of corrupt theocracies.
Why the attention for Brunei? This is a fresh development, instigated by a member of the Commonwealth, headed by a ruler who has honorary positions in the British Army and Royal Navy. Brunei is viewed somewhat romantically and all we hear about is the immense wealth of the Sultan. Bully for him. He also appears to be a massive bigot.
He’s instigated the death penalty for LGBT people, and no amount of ‘whataboutery’ or theocratic legal argument will change this. I’m not going to stop calling attention to it because it sounds awkward or insensitive.
It’s 2019 and I’m not going to excuse this with some kind of cultural relativism anymore. It’s wrong, pure and simple.