In what could provide a boost to gay-friendly West Hollywood’s hotel business, a group of New York City gay activists are calling for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air. The two Beverly Hills hotels are owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei. Bolkiah is putting into effect a system of laws based on the Islamic Shariah that calls for death by stoning, severing of arms and legs and flogging for those who commit adultery, have abortions or engage in gay sex. The two Beverly Hills hotels are part of the Dorchester Collection, an international group owned by Bolkiah, who lives in a 1,200 room palace on the island of Borneo and reputedly is worth $20 billion.
“It’s archaic. It’s brutal. It’s disgraceful,” Allen Roskoff, president of New York’s Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, told the New York Post. “These hotels should be shunned by everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. They should be put out of business. My guess is they [Brunei authorities] don’t treat women much better.”
Roskoff said rooms and events at the hotels already are being cancelled. “We are sending letters to everyone in the travel industry,” he said. The Washington Blade newspaper has reported that the Gill Action Fund, a major LGBT rights organization, has cancelled a planned May 1-4 meeting of major donors to gay rights campaigns at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property,” Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, told the Blade last week. “We are seeking a return of all deposits.“
According to the Hollywood Reporter, shoe designer Brian Atwood and fashion designer Peter Som have called for boycotts of other hotels in the Dorchester Collection that are preferred venues for fashion buyers and journalists attending major fashion shows. They include the Principe de Savoia in Milan, Le Meurice in Paris and the Dorchester in London.
“We do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind,” the Beverly Hills Hotel said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “The laws and policies that govern how we run our hotel have nothing to do with the laws that exist in any other country.”