Brunei has edged past Nigeria to emerge as the most dangerous country in the world for LGBTQI travellers, according to the annual LGBTQ+ Safety Travel Index.
The safest place for queer people to travel to? It's Canada, topping the list for the second year in a row.
Created in 2019 by travel bloggers Asher and Lyric Fergusson, for this year's index, the couple researched 203 countries.
Other countries that you're probably going to want to avoid - according to the index - include Nigeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Guyana, Malaysia, Malawi, Tonga, Somalia, and Libya. All these countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality with the punishment for being gay being long prison terms or death.
The 10 safest countries for LGBTQ travellers - according to the index - are Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, Spain, and France.
The index takes into account factors such as criminalisation of same-sex relationships, propoganda/morality laws, laws regarding transgender legal identity, trans murder rates, legalisation of same-sex marriages, protections for LGBTQ workers, anti-discrimination laws, criminalisation of hate-based violence, adoption by same-sex parents, trans murder rates, and any available polling data.
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Brunei?
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Brunei? Let’s take a look at some of the key indicators.
Is homosexuality legal in Brunei?
No.Brunei came under the control of Britain in 1888, and did not secure independence until 1984. Brunei’s constitution was written in 1953, and drew much of its legal system from Britain’s common law framework.
In 2013, the Sultan of Brunei announced his plan to introduce Sharia law into the country’s penal code. Under the plan, Sharia law would apply to the Muslim citizens of Brunei – approximately two-thirds of the population.
Despite international criticism, and concern expressed by the United Nations, Brunei has been pushing ahead with the implementation of Sharia law. The new penal code – which included the death penalty for same-sex sexual activity – came into effect in 2019.
Gay sex was illegal in Brunei even before the introduction of Sharia law. The penalty was imprisonment for up to ten years.
Under the new law, a man convicted of gay sex can be sentenced to be stoned to death. In order to be convicted of gay sex, the law requires that they must confess, or there must be four witnesses who can testify that the act took place.
Are there anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in Brunei?
No. There are no protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Is there Marriage Equality in Brunei?
No. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Brunei?
Brunei is a socially conservative country.Homosexuality is a taboo subject.
Homophobia is systemic.LGBTQ people conceal their sexuality.
The contradiction of Prince Azim
In recent years, the ruling family of Brunei has mourned the loss of Prince Azim – the 38-year-old was fourth in line to the throne.
It’s believed that Prince Azim’s death was caused by liver cancer.
Despite the systemic homophobia of Brunei, Prince Azim – who was reportedly the Sultan’s favourite son – did not attempt to conceal that he was a gay man.
Prince Azim travelled widely and was renowned for his extravagant lifestyle and lavish parties.