Celebrities Boycott Sultan of Brunei’s Hotels as Anti-Gay Law Goes Into Effect

Celebrities and Los Angeles officials have called for a boycott against hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, where a harsh law that makes gay sex punishable by death went into effect on Wednesday.

The nine hotels are some of the most exclusive in the world and make up the Dorchester Collection, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the government. They include two where Hollywood moguls dine and entertainment glitterati are feted during awards season: the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Others include the Dorchester in London and the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris.

The new penal code in Brunei, a small monarchy on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, is based on the most extreme interpretation of Shariah, an Islamic law based on the Quran and other writings. The law calls for death by stoning not only for sex between men but also for adultery. The penalty for theft is the amputation of limbs.

“Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery,” George Clooney wrote in a column last week on the website Deadline.

Mr. Clooney, an Academy Award-winning actor who has led humanitarian efforts in Darfur and Haiti, said he did not think a boycott would shame Brunei’s monarchy. “But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way,” he wrote.

Other celebrities and politicians from Los Angeles have condemned the new law and asked followers to stay away from the Sultan of Brunei’s properties. Ellen DeGeneres posted a tweet on Tuesday asking her followers to “spread the word” and “rise up.” It had been retweeted more than 70,000 times by Wednesday afternoon.

The tennis legend Billie Jean King also warned about the new law on Wednesday, saying, “This atrocity begins today in #Brunei.” Last week, Elton John said he had avoided staying at Dorchester Collection hotels for years.

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The comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres implored her Twitter followers to help raise awareness about the new law in Brunei. “We need to do something now,” she said. “Rise up.”CreditMike Blake/Reuters

Los Angeles politicians were equally pointed. On Tuesday, three City Council members proposed a resolution that officially condemned the government of Brunei “for adopting laws that impose extreme and inhumane penalties.” The proposal discouraged employees and residents from staying at or attending any functions at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air unless the law was repealed.

The city controller, Ron Galperin, said he was “outraged and horrified” by the law and posted photos of Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel with a red X through them.

Representatives for the Dorchester Collection said in a statement on Wednesday that the company does “not tolerate any form of discrimination.”

“Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasizes equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees,” they said. “Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs.”

This is not the first time Hollywood has called for a boycott of the two hotels because of Brunei’s punitive legal system. In 2014, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging the government of Brunei “to divest itself of the Beverly Hills Hotel” after a wave of high-profile protests in response to the country’s harsh punishments for adultery, abortion and homosexuality.

But it is unclear what impact the boycott will have. Although the earlier protests resulted in a flood of cancellations, they did not move the Sultan to sell. In time, the issue faded and celebrities and their entourages returned.

This article is from NYT – go to source

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