Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters condemns Brunei's homophobic new law

Winston Peters
Winston Peters has condemned Brunei's introduction of the death penalty for homosexuality. Photo credit: Mitchell Alexander / Newshub.

Winston Peters has issued a strong rebuke of Brunei's new law that will make gay sex punishable by death.

The small Islamic kingdom is ruled by Sultan Hassanl Bolkiah, who passed a law this week introducing a number of harsh new punishments as part of Brunei's implementation of sharia law. From April 3 anyone found guilty of adultery or homosexual acts could be legally stoned to death.

In his capacity as Acting Prime Minister while Jacinda Ardern is in China, Peters issued a statement on Sunday expressing the Government's disapproval of the law in no uncertain terms.

"It is seriously regrettable that Brunei's decision contravenes a number of international norms on human rights," he said.

"New Zealand opposes any kind of discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation. We are also deeply concerned at the use of punishments that are cruel, inhuman or degrading.

"New Zealand is a long-standing opponent of the use of the death penalty in all cases and in all circumstances."

Brunei adopted Islamic sharia law in 2014, a move which was widely condemned by the international community.

Homosexuality has long been illegal in the country, but April's new law is the first time gay sex will be punishable by death. The law will also mean those found guilty of robbery could have their hands or feet amputated.

Human rights groups have condemned the penalties, with Amnesty International calling them "cruel and inhuman".

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark called the new penal code "barbaric".

Actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of all luxury hotels owned by the Sultan, which has been backed by openly gay musician Elton John.