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Hundreds protest in London over Brunei's anti-gay sharia laws

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LONDON (Reuters) – Hundreds of people rallied outside the Brunei-owned Dorchester hotel in London on Saturday in protest at new Islamic sharia laws in the country that punish homosexuality, adultery and rape with the death penalty.

Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a 400,000 population, has defended its right to implement sharia that punishes sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty – including by stoning, and theft with amputation.

The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014, have been rolled out in phases since then including this week, stirring international outrage.

Brunei’s state-owned investment agency BIA owns the Dorchester Collection hotel group, which features luxury venues such as the Dorchester, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Plaza Athenee in Paris.

On Saturday protesters gathered outside the hotel brandishing banners and chanting slogans such as: “We’re here, we’re queer and we are not going there.”

“Stoning to death is a particularly unique, cruel, brutal punishment designed to prolong the agony of the person being killed,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Reuters. “This has no place in the 21st century.”

The Dorchester hotel did not immediately respond to an emailed request from Reuters for comment on Saturday.

The United Nations said on Wednesday Brunei was violating human rights by implementing its sharia measures.

(Reporting by Jayson Mansaray and Will Russell Writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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