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Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, center. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said Sunday that the country will extend its moratorium on its sweeping new interpretation of Sharia law, which punishes homosexual people with death by stoning if found guilty of engaging in sexual intercourse, amid backlash from celebrities and human rights groups around the world, Reuter reports.

"I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the [law]. However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident. As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the [law] which provides a wider scope for remission."

Context: Homosexuality is already illegal in Brunei, with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. And as Reuters notes, "Some crimes already command the death penalty in Brunei, including premeditated murder and drug trafficking, but no executions have been carried out since the 1990s." The interpretation of Islamic law that went into effect on April 3 prohibits sodomy, adultery and rape.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford University's 90%-effective vaccine.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 coronavirus deaths — Americans line up for testing ahead of Thanksgiving.
  3. Travel: Air travel's COVID-created future — Over 1 million U.S. travelers flew on Friday, despite calls to avoid holiday travel.
  4. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. coronavirus hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  5. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  6. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Biden with John Kerry. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.