Is this merely a "cultural" matter?
Is this merely a cultural phenomenon in Brunei? Not a bit.
As may be seen in the map, Brunei is in the Shafi'i Madhab, or school of Islamic jurisprudence, in the majority Sunni stream of Islam (the other Sunni schools being Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi). Below I have scanned for you the page from the Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. This is the book of Sharia law for all Shafi'is and it has been approved as an accurate translation into English by al-Azhar University (coincidentally the same seat of learning that the Imam of the al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch attended).
In the introduction it states:
"the authors of the present volume and their positions DO represent the orthodox Muslim intellectual and spiritual heritage that has been the strength of the Community for over a thousand years".
So this is an authoritative document for our nearest Muslim neighbours.
Please read what I've scanned below. Please note that such punishments are obligatory and that they apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Please also note my important previous post on the struggle in Malaysia's Parliament over the matter of rapists marrying their victims. In that matter it was the learned Qadi who was pushing for harsh laws and the more Westernised Muslims who stood against it. Nevertheless the harsher laws were introduced. And that was Malaysia, which has a reputation of being a very "moderate" Muslim country.
In the wake of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando Stuff published an article 3 years ago entitled Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death. Would you like to guess the dominant religion of those countries? Apart from Nigeria which has a 50/50 split between Muslims on the one hand and Christians/followers of Primal religions and other religions on the other hand, where the Muslims are particularly vocal and where there has been a Muslim President since 2015, it is a list entirely composed of Islamic countries.
I hope now you will see why.
This is not a matter of culture, this is a matter of following the Divine Law. And as an opening quote at the front of Reliance from Seyyed Hossein Nasr states, "In accordance with the real nature of things it is the human that must conform to the Divine and not the Divine to the human". Any Muslim who tries to argue with "the Divine " law may put themselves into the position of being declared an apostate and face the punishment for that, which is also death.
The photo below is also from Reliance.
Here is the pertinent section on "The penalty for fornication or sodomy" in the JUSTICE section of my copy of Reliance.
I hope our Muslim friends can see that the problem many of us have with Islam is not in the skin colour of most of its adherents, or the way they dress or eat or the way some of their ladies cover their heads. It is with the "Divine" law of Allah.
Until such teachings are openly renounced and taught against we will have no end of what appears to be "Islamophobia" among New Zealanders.
Our government has publicly stated grave misgivings about Brunei's new laws yet has avoided mentioning the source of those laws - Sharia. Let's hope they mature in their understanding and in their willingness to name the problem. Let's also hope that they take a strong & principled a stand whenever such "orthodox" and "Divine" teachings are propagated here in New Zealand.