LOS ANGELES, CA —LA’s elite may have to find a new place to hobnob after two iconic hotels were linked to the violently anti-gay Brunei government.
Los Angeles City leaders sought to join George Clooney in calling for a boycott of the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, which are both owned by a Brunei government that announced plans to make homosexuality and adultery punishable with death by stoning. Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, who holds supreme power in the oil-rich nation, announced the new policy in accordance with sharia law. Favoured by Hollywood royalty, the hotels put the city’s elite in an uncomfortable position because these go-to places to see and be seen are suddenly seen as anti-gay.
Controller Ron Galperin and Councilman Paul Koretz called Tuesday for a boycott of two hotels, calling out the Brunei government for being “barbaric.” Their calls came after Clooney asked people not to patronize the famed hotels along with seven other international hotels owned by Brunei. He acknowledging that he very recently spent money at the hotels not knowing about the policies of their owners.
“They’re nice hotels,” he wrote in a column for Deadline. “The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let’s be clear, 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. Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”
Koretz also announced he is introducing a City Council resolution opposed to Brunei’s policies.
“This is as barbaric as anything that has happened in hundreds of years. We can’t abide by it and we have some logical ways to show it by boycotting hotels owned by the government of Brunei somewhat indirectly and sending them a message,” Koretz said at a news conference outside of L.A. City Hall.
“Do not patronize these hotels. Do not stay in these hotels. And do not step foot in these hotels as long as they are owned by such a criminal enterprise,” Galperin said.
A statement issued over the weekend by the sultan’s office said Brunei “is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws. Brunei Darussalam has always been practicing a dual legal system, one that is based on the Syariah Law and the other on Common Law.”
The statement added that “both systems will continue to run in parallel to maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith,” and said the purpose of sharia law is “criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam” but “also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race.”
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.