Brunei's billionaire leader is calling for "stronger" Islamic teachings despite global outrage about laws that brutally target LGBT citizens.
"I want to see Islamic teachings in this country grow stronger," said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in a press conference on Wednesday, per CNBC.
While the southeast Asian nation has always outlawed gay sex, a stricter policy introduced Wednesday calls for residents to be stoned to death if they are found guilty of breaking the law. The penal code also includes public flogging as punishment for abortion and amputation for theft, and makes extramarital sex punishable by death for Muslims.
Both the European Union and the United Nations have blasted the anti-gay legislation as "cruel and inhumane" punishments that violate international human rights laws. Celebrities are also condemning the laws — earlier this week, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singer Elton John called for a boycott of two luxury hotels in California owned by the royal family of Brunei.
Brunei's prime minister issued a statement defending the country's right to implement laws as it sees fit and describing the code's goal of "deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam."