OK, so you’ve heard this news? It’s all over LA – New York, not so much. So, Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, owns the Dorcester Collection, some of the world’s most upscale hotels, that include the Principe de Savoia in Milan, the Dorchester, Le Meurice, the Bel Air AND the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. He has just decided to implement laws, based on the Islamic Shariah, that call for flogging of women who have abortions and the death by stoning of those who engage in gay or lesbian sex. Needless to say, there are a more few gay people and MANY gay rights supporters that frequent these hotels. The protests have centered on the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Bel Air the boycott has gained more traction in the last few days when Ellen DeGeneres said on Facebook that she will not patronize the hotels. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has also said it will not hold its Global Women’s Rights Awards event, scheduled for next Monday, at the Beverly Hills Hotel and on The Talk, Sharon Osbourne also announced her support for the boycott. In addition, a major LGBT rights organization, the Gill Action Fund, has cancelled plans to hold a meeting of major donors to gay rights campaigns at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Shoe designer Brian Atwood and fashion designer Peter Som also have called for those in the fashion industry to boycott the Dorchester Collection hotels, which are preferred venues for fashion buyers and journalists attending fashion shows in Paris and Milan. “We cannot hold a human rights and women’s rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. The Beverly Hills Hotel has responded to boycott threats by saying that it adheres to the laws of the country in which it is located and that laws in other countries, such as Brunei, have no impact on how it is operated. Newspapers in Beverly Hills have been mute on boycott and John Seitz, senior editor of the Beverly Hills Courier, said his newspaper will not write about the boycott “We hardly want to promote that,” Seitz said. “We don’t particularly want to promote boycotts of our institutions here … We try to promote our local businesses.” The Beverly Hills Weekly also hasn’t written about the boycott.
Just a little background on the Sultan, once the richest man in the world. He lives in the Istana Nurul Iman palace, the largest palace in the world, much bigger than the Vatican palace. It has 1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms and is 2,152,782 sq. feet. So this guy gets what he wants (like 250 bathrooms) so, I can’t imagine this is going to change. If only there was a “hotel commissioner”, like the NBA’s Adam Silver who could force the Sultan to sell. Well, thanks, Marvin Davis. He’s the guy sold the hotel to the Sultan.
UPDATE: Billionaire mogul Richard Branson is the latest to lend his name to the effort against the Dorchester Group. “No @Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday. Virgin has over 50,000 employees worldwide, so this is no small threat.