Guess why the Sultan of Brunei changed his mind about his gay death penalty

Originally published at:


Does the Quran order death for homosexuals?


The sultan’s decision might have had something to do with the fact that businesses around the world are boycotting Brunei-owned businesses.

This boycott worked because, oil aside, Brunei is mainly selling high-priced goods and services primarily to a small group of wealthy end-consumers: bankers, celebrities, well-off tourists. In contrast, bigoted ownership like Chick-Fil-A can weather a boycott because they’re working economies of scale selling cheap mass-market goods.

It doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t, the fundies would find a Hadith that they could interpret that way. For every core religious text, there are always a bunch of supplemental texts written by opportunists that can be exploited by future fundies. The Sultan himself probably just dug up another Hadith to explain why repealing this law was more in line with Islam.


Guess why the Sultan of Brunei changed his mind

I was kind of hoping the answer would be “because his boyfriend wasn’t having any of it.”


It doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t, the fundies would find a Hadith that they could interpret that way.

I think it absolutely does matter. If the text is unambiguous in that, then it’s a problem with the basic religion. If the order stems from a Hadith, then it’s a problem with the Hadith writers.


People who want to use their religious belief as a pretext to act like raging assholes to others will always find the proof-texting support they need from their scriptures regardless of the faith. People don’t ever proof-text scriptures if they want justification to treat others well.


Fanatics could find that in a grocery list.


Fundamentalists of any religion find texts to support their positions no matter how harmful. The type of belief itself trains its adherents to rationalize any sort of bad behavior through proof-texting and canned interpretations. The fault lies not in the scriptures but how it is employed.


Usually it’s a problem with both: the core texts tend to be ambiguous (or, when unambiguous, reflect the barbarity and ignorance of their times) and the follow-up texts use that ambiguity to push whatever agenda (often a hateful or greedy or power-seeking one) the opportunist wants. The follow-up texts gain authority over time, and in turn create a lot of opportunities for bigots and greedpigs and other bad actors. Those are people to whom it doesn’t matter: creeps like the Sultan of Brunei and fanatics like the local Know-Nothings the horny old hypocrite was trying to appease.

There are also cases where the core texts themselves or portions thereof are written by the shady opportunists: see Elron, Joseph Smith, or Paul the Apostle.


Sure, but if it’s actually on the grocery list, then you don’t have to be a fan to find it.


As far as I’ve read the Quran doesn’t explicity condemn homosexuality any more harshly than the other Abrahamic religions. What is in there predates both the Prophet and Christ.


Sounds like it’s time for a change from monarchy to democracy.


Which would make what differece in the situation? Just as the fundies of any religion can find ways to interpret scripture or its interpretations for their hateful purposes, so can the good followers of the religion. The christian bible pretty explicitly condemns homosexuality and there are still wonderful, inclusive congregations around. For most people, religion is just an excuse to believe what they’ve always believed.


Interpretation is fuckery, and there is no shortage of people who will interpret for their own benefit, which usually means gain for them and loss for you.


It’s worth noting that what the sultan has done is impose a moratorium on the death penalty (in fact, apparently on all death sentences). Which means that at any point he or a successor could, with the wave a hand, reverse that moratorium. Of course, that’s a problem with any autocratic system, so:


A grocery store like that probably has a special on stakes in the BBQ section.


Guess why the Sultan of Brunei changed his mind about his gay death penalty

That’s easy, he is Gay.


And a lot of people would strongly disagree with you on the words “explicitly” and “condemns” here. If you just go by Leviticus, it’s horrible, but in the same way it condemns wearing clothes made of different materials. That’s not as explicit as people like to make it seem.

You’re right that people would use it as a prop for their hate-filled opinions, no matter what it said. The bible doesn’t say countries should be ruled by blood-line monarchies, or that people should be slave-owning monsters, but that didn’t stop people from reading it that way when it suited them.


Stoning is an easily subvertible thing. Can you volunteer? Someone has to cast the first stone, but if enough of the volunteers are standing in the way it all falls apart.

And for those unsure of “things the bible tells you to do” here’s a handy list.


I’ll just keep not staying in those hotels. Religious law creeps me out. Well, that I could never afford to stay at those sort of places.