Brunei Muslim LGBT Community
In this reflective practice, the concept of ‘comprehensive sexuality education (CSE)’ (Browne, 2015, as cited in Ridwan & Wu, 2018, p. 130) will be bringing into a media text which essentially focused on the implementation of new Islamic laws to the LGBT community under Brunei’s absolute monarchy system (“Syariah law plunges Brunei”, 2019). Therefore, the frameworks of this paper will be an introduction and definition of the concept, introduction of the new implemented laws together with a brief literature review of right-based and gender-focused approach in Brunei, a connectivity between the concept and the media text as well as a thought of the pertinence of this idea to the current issue.
The concept of ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ is described wherein “age-appropriate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including human development, relationships, decision making, abstinence, contraception, and disease prevention” (SIECUS, 2009, as cited in Baams, Dubas & van Aken, 2017, p. 932). Besides, this concept can also be defined as a right-based and gender-focused method to enlighten youthful individuals to develop self-respect, basic considering and regard for differences when it comes to sexuality and sex issues (Browne, 2015, as cited in Ridwan & Wu, 2018, p. 130). As Baams, Dubas and van Aken (2017, p. 931) mentioned, a more secure school atmosphere will be constructed with tutors and understudies who are mindful of sexual differing qualities issues by the agency of having comprehensive sexuality education in school. Moreover, they describe the educational program as a student’s self-reflection, and yet the adolescences could find their own identity and discover others’ as well. Conversely, the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ should be synthesized in virtue of local and international NGOs which promoted by the Ministry of Education (Ridwan & Wu, 2018, p. 130).
Therefore, in this reflective practice, I apply ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ based on a recent report stated that new Syariah law punishments were implemented under Brunei’s absolute monarchy system specifically among the LGBT community. Brunei is additionally one of the few states within the world that formally styles itself ‘Islamic’ and its supreme government reflects its history (Lindsy & Steiner, 2016, p.553). Notwithstanding, as Lindsy and Steiner (2016, p. 553) stated, a questionable modern Islamic criminal code, the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 consists of sanctions such as whipping, amputation as well as stoning to death was marked into law by the Sultan and has far-reaching repercussions for the legal framework. “Syariah law plunges Brunei” (2019) claimed that in advance of the Syariah punishments came into impact, sex between men was condemned with 10 years imprison, whereas lesbian sex was condemned with 40 strokes of the cane together with 10 years imprison. Not only that, but it also portraited the penal code presently made the gay people indeed more frightened although they were managing “enigmatic lives” disregarding former death by stoning came into constrain.
Seeing that the concept ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ is a right-based method, therefore the Yogyakarta Principles stated clearly wherein “sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse” (Langlois, Wilkinson, Gerber & Offord, 2017, p.718). Yet, the new Syariah law punishments which enacted by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is considered to be an infraction of fundamental human rights thus the international behaviours and actions are suggestive that Brunei ought to discard these laws and proceed to stay to neutral Islam (“Syariah law plunges Brunei”, 2019). As mentioned above, ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ should be promoted by local and international NGOs as well as the Ministry of Education hand in hand together. However, the Brunei government does not have any interactions with the LGBT community and even not working with those NGOs (“Syariah law plunges Brunei”, 2019).
Next, followed by the gender-focused perspective, as the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Natalia Kanem commented each individual has equitable freedom living from viciousness, abuse, segregation and disgrace of any kind (“United Nations/ Brunei”, 2019). Nevertheless, the LGBT community in Brunei have nowhere including gay clubs or bars that make the members feel safe to assemble openly (“Syariah law plunges Brunei”, 2019). Some of the members even quest to flee their home country to seek asylum in other foreign countries as they worry that once their identity is exposed, they will be punished with brutal punishments. More than that, Ms Kanem also reminded that human rights infringement against any bunch in any case of gender or sexual orientation must not be conjured utilizing cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs together with social attitudes (“United Nations/ Brunei”, 2019).
The gender-equality worldview is notable but not generally acknowledged (Farrell, 2004, p.612), Brunei as the example, those harshest penalties such as death by stoning or even serving of limbs will be imposed under the excessive extreme new Syariah laws. Farrell (2004, p. 621) noticed that the Syariah law has recommended a reason for the resistance to lesbian and gay rights equality of same-sex relationships and people who distinguish as lesbian or gay would weaken existing institutions which depend for their imperativeness on sex-gender separation and disparity. And therefore, not to mention gender equality, even the most basic ‘comprehensive sexuality education does not seem to exist. Most of the members from the LGBT community choose to secretive their sexualities otherwise they would like to elude the nation before they are found out not to be heterosexual (“Syariah law plunges Brunei”, 2019).
By delve into the concept ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ makes me instantaneously grasp the importance of sex education to a country, especially the Islamic state. It is not difficult to find that the recent LGBT issues which everyone is concerned about have been widely discussed by the public. Through the lens of a gendered concept, the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ may be defeated by the Syariah law. Malaysia for instance, we have a majority of Muslim community in the rural north-eastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu, and fortunately this was an action of a local government, not a central. In short, to accomplish true equality within a formal equality establishment postures numerous far-reaching challenges (Eyer, Glazer, Kim & Macias, 2010, p. 160).
- Syariah law plunges Brunei gay community into fear. (2019, April 4). The Straits Times. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/sharia-law-plunges-brunei-gay-community-into-fear
- Baams, L., Dubas, J. S., & van Aken, M. A. G. (2017). Comprehensive sexuality education as a longitudinal predictor of LGBTQ name-calling and perceived willingness to intervene in school. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(5), 931-942. doi: 10.1007/s10964-017-0638-z
- Eyer, K. R., Glazer, E. M., Kim, S. A. & Macias, S. J. (2010). On the cutting edge: charting the future sexual orientation and gender identity scholarship. Law Sexuality: Review of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Legal Issues, 19,159-192. Retrieved from https://heinonline-org.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/HOL/Page?lname=&public=false&collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/lsex19&men_hide=false&men_tab=toc&kind=&page=159#
- Farrell, S. (2004). Reconsidering the gender-equality perspective for understanding LGBT rights. Law Sexuality: Review of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Legal Issues, 13, 605-704. Retrieved from https://heinonline-org.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/HOL/Page?lname=&public=false&collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/lsex13&men_hide=false&men_tab=toc&kind=&page=605
- Langlois, A. J., Wilkinson, C., Gerber, P. & Offord, B. (2017). Community, identity, orientation: sexuality, gender and rights in ASEAN. The Pacific Review, 30(5), 710-728. doi: 10.1080/09512748.2017.1294613
- Lindsy, T., & Steiner, K. (2016). Islam, the monarchy and criminal law in Brunei: the Syariah Penal Code Order, 2013. Griffith Law Review, 25(4), 552-580. doi: 10.1080/10383441.2016.1273294
- Ridwan, R. & Wu, J. (2018). ‘Being young and LGBT, what could be worse?’ Analysis of youth LGBT activism in Indonesia: challenges and ways forward. Gender & Development, 26(1), 121-138. doi: 10.1080/13552074.2018.1429103
- United Nations/ Brunei: UN agencies urge Brunei to repeal new ‘extreme and unjustified’ penal code. (2019, April 8). Asia News Monitor. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.monash.edu.au/docview/2204351598?accountid=12528