Washington – Saying Brunei’s newly adopted penal code violates the rights of women and minorities, including gay, lesbian and transgendered people, Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, joined a group of lawmakers Thursday who are insisting the United States drop all trade with that country.

The lawmakers signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman insisting the United States stop any further negotiations with the government of Brunei Darussalam on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement until Brunei addresses human rights violations brought on by the penal code.

The new code, announced by the Sultan of Brunei, the country’s absolute ruler, imposes harsh Islamic law and punishments including flogging, stoning and severing of limbs.

“As Members of Congress, we believe that protecting fundamental human rights is a cornerstone of American values and must always be a priority in our relations, both diplomatic and economic, with foreign countries. The United States is committed to protecting the rights of religious minorities, LGBT individuals and women across the globe” the lawmakers’ letter said.

“Moreover, time and again, the United States has spoken out against anti-LGBT activity and discriminatory laws in countries like Nigeria and Uganda and against unequal protection of women, in countries such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and against the persecution of religious minorities in the Central African Republic, China, and Pakistan.”

The State Department did not have an immediate response to the letter.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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