The British government on Thursday said Brunei's introduction of harsh new shariah laws, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, was "a backward step" for the southeast Asian country.
"The city of Los Angeles and the United States and the world should place severe sanctions on Brunei for taking LGBTQ rights back to the Stone Age", said Karina Samala, chair of the Transgender Advisory Council. It has since brought it into full force over the last few years, with the final two phases, offences punishable by stoning to death and amputation, now being introduced.
Before the implementation of the new sharia code on 3 April, gay sex was already outlawed in Brunei under Section 377 of the country's penal code, which prohibited "sexual intercourse against the order of nature".
One 40-year-old gay Bruneian now seeking asylum in Canada said the impact of the new penal code was already being felt in Brunei. TV host Ellen DeGeneres also called for people to "rise up", saying "we need to do something now".More news: Experts warn US-Mexico border closure would close auto industry
The group also called on the only Australian airport with regular Royal Brunei flights - Melbourne Airport - to no longer accept flights from the carrier and for travel agents such as Flight Centre and STA Travel to immediately stop selling their flights.
Fewer than 500,000 people live in the oil- and gas-rich nation, and the majority are Muslim, though the country also has sizable Christian and Buddhist minorities.
Khairul, a gay man in Brunei who gave only one name, described the laws as "daunting", adding: "When I'm ready, I'll be on my way to a safer community".
The new law stipulates the death penalty for a number of offenses, including rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery, and insulting or defaming the Prophet Mohammed.
The Brunei government is enacting a strict Sharia penal code that's, not only barbaric but is also violating multiple human rights liberties. Therefore, the small monarchy of Brunei is notifying the world that Islamic Sharia law will take clear precedence over global human rights.
The city controller, Ron Galperin, said he was "outraged and horrified" by the law and posted photos of Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel with a red X through them.
"Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination", the company said in a statement.