Beverly Hills city council asks sultan of Brunei to sell hotel over anti-LGBT stance

By Ben Child, The Guardian
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 7:08 EDT
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Comedian Jay Leno participates in a rally to protest draconian punishment of women and gay people announced by the Sultan of Brunei outside the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 5, 2014 in California [AFP]
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City council condemns Brunei’s death sentences for those in gay and adulterous relationships and urges sultan to divest ownership of Beverly Hills hotel, which reports $1.5m loss in bookings over controversy

Authorities in Los Angeles have called on the sultan of Brunei to sell a famous Hollywood hotel at the centre of an entertainment industry boycott over its owner’s introduction of anti-gay, anti-women laws in his home state.

The Beverly Hills city council passed a resolution on Tuesday which condemns new laws in Brunei calling for people involved in same sex or adulterous relationships to face amputations or death by stoning, according to Variety. It called on the sultan to offload his ownership of the venerable hotel, which has been targeted by campaigners including the Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres.

The council stopped short of officially joining the boycott but Mayor Lili Bosse, said she had made a “personal decision” not to stay at the hotel due to the “shocking and inhumane,” actions of its owner. Bosse said: “We are standing for human rights, we are standing for dignity and we are standing for those who don’t have a voice.”

Others at the council meeting protested the move. Robert S Anderson, whose mother opened the hotel in 1912, said the business had already lost about $1.5m in bookings due to the boycott. Anderson, the hotel’s official historian, said: “The Beverly Hills Hotel does not send any money back to Brunei. It is reinvested in the community, in the hotel.”

The Beverly Hills Hotel has already been abandoned by a well-known pre-Oscars event, The Night Before fundraiser, and has also lost a forthcoming tribute to Sony producer Amy Pascal. In the UK, Stephen Fry has been at the forefront of a boycott against another hotel owned by the sultan, The Dorchester in London.

Christopher Cowdray, CEO of the Dorchester Collection group which owns both hotels, said the laws the council had targeted were part of a “global issue”. He warned: “It is not just about the sultan of Brunei. These laws exist in other parts of the world.” Cowdray said that he did not see the council take action “refuting laws in those countries”.

Meanwhile the Human Rights Group, which has been at the forefront of the boycott in Hollywood, called on the Beverly Hills Hotel to stop promoting gay marriage services which offer free champagne and strawberries as part of the package.

“The sultan is offering free strawberries to LGBT couples in LA and death by stoning to those in Brunei,” said president Chad Griffin in a statement. “This is the height of hypocrisy, and we must ensure that profits from LGBT weddings in the US stop going to regime that could soon start executing its LGBT citizens.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2014

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