The Beverly Hills Hotel and its Polo Lounge are back on the A List (and the Hotel Bel-Air is now an appropriate, if less prominent, LGBTQ destination).
The Sultan of Brunei, whose Dorchester Collection includes those hotels, has announced a moratorium on plans to impose the death penalty on those convicted of violating Sharia law by engaging in sex with others of the same gender, adulterous behavior and rape
The moratorium was first mentioned today in the U.K.s’ Guardian, which said the moratorium was in response to “a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.”
In 2014 Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the supreme leader of Brunei and thus the controller of the Brunei Investment Agency, owner of the Dorchester Collection, announced plans to impose aspects of a severe version of Sharia law later that year that that called for the death by stoning of those who engaged in gay and lesbian sex.
That announcement prompted demonstrations around the world against the Dorchester’s hotels, which include the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, the Hotel Plaza Athéné in Paris and the Dorchester in London. Those protests included several in Beverly Hills, where West Hollywood residents joined prominent figures such as Vince Wong, vice chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task, and the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Mavis Leno and her husband Jay in protests across Sunset Boulevard from the hotel.
The Sultan’s decision also was denounced by the United Nations and local organizations such as the L.A. LGBT Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.. The Beverly Hills City Council asked that Brunei sell the hotel collection,. A number of prominent organizations canceled events planned for the Beverly Hills Hotel, including the Gill Action Fund, a major LGBT rights organization, and the Motion Picture Television Fund, which had held its annual “Night Before” the Oscars fundraiser at the hotel.
As a result, Sultan Bokiah put on hold the strict Sharia law punishments of intercourse by same-sex couples and of women who engaged in sex outside of marriage. Other “crimes” the law was intended to publish included pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Fridays. However, he announced in March that he would begin putting those punishments in effect beginning April 3.
The Guardian reports that “the sultan said on Sunday that the death penalty would not be enforced in the implementation of the sharia penal code order (SPCO).”
“I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO, Sultan Bokiah said in a speech before the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident.”
“As evident for more than two decades, we have practised a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO, which provides a wider scope for remission.“