Brunei is introducing new stringent Islamic laws that make gay sex an offense punishable by stoning to death.

The new legislation, that comes into effect on Wednesday, also covers a range of other crimes including punishment for theft by amputation.

This has sparked international uproar.

In a public address on Wednesday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of the small South-East Asian nation, called for “stronger” Islamic teachings.

“I want to see Islamic teaching in this country grow stronger,” the Sultan said.

Under the new anti-lesbian,gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) law, individuals will only be convicted to gay sex if they confess or are seen committing the act by four or more witnesses.

Homosexuality was already a crime in Brunei, punishable by sentencing of up to 10 years in prison.

Brunei’s gay community has expressed fear and shock at the new legislation.

“You wake up and realise that your neighbours, your family or even that nice old lady that sells prawn fritters by the side of the road doesn’t think of you as human, or is okay with stoning,” said a Bruneian gay man, who did not want to be identified.

Brunei, on the island of Borneo, is ruled by Sultan Hassanal and has grown rich on oil and gas exports.

The 72-year-old Sultan is the head of Brunei Investment Agency, which owns some of the world’s top hotels including the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

This week Hollywood actor George Clooney and other celebrities called for a boycott of the luxury hotels.

Television host Ellen DeGeneres also called for people to “rise up” in her tweet on Tuesday evening:

Students of the School of Oriental and African studies at the University of London have also called for removal and renaming of the Brunei Gallery.

Brunei has a population of 420 000 and two-thirds of it are Muslim.

Gay Bruneian people are either fleeing from the country or are living in fear.

-BBC