Boycott urged of sultan's hotels after Brunei advocates stoning of gays

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The Beverly Hills Hotel. - PHOTO: Wikipedia

The Human Rights Campaign is urging a boycott of American hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei after Brunei advanced a series of changes to its penal code that would allow for the stoning of LGBT people. 

The tiny Southeast Asian nation began phasing in a version of Shariah this week that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery. Most of the punishments can be applied to non-Muslims, who account for about one-third of the 440,000 people in the oil-rich country.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced the law as a "great achievement" for Brunei. "The decision to implement the (Shariah penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah's command as written in the Quran," he said in a speech earlier this week.

After May 1, Brunei citizens can be fined or jailed by Islamic courts for offences like not performing Friday prayers, pregnancy out of wedlock, propagating other religions and indecent behavior. More severe punishments such as flogging, amputation of limbs and stoning for offences such as theft, adultery and sodomy will be introduced in phases over the next two years.

Human Rights Watch said the move was a "huge step backward for human rights" in Brunei.

HRC, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights group, called for a boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air, which are part of the Sultan's Dorchester collection.

As of May 2, the Aviva Family and Children’s Services, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Cedars-Sinai Medical Hospital’s Helping Hand of Los Angeles, Colleagues Helpers in Philanthropic Services, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, the Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs, the Partners in Care Foundation and Teen Line in collaboration with Sony Pictures all had events scheduled at the Beverly Hills Hotel over the next month.

Many charities and foundations that raise money and awareness for a variety of important causes use the hotels for events. HRC said it supports many of the efforts, but encouraged the organizers of the events to find new locations.

In a letter to organizations with events at the Beverly Hills Hotel, HRC president Chad Griffin wrote, "There are a number of hotels and venues in the Los Angeles area that aren’t owned by foreign leaders and governments that allow for the execution of its LGBT citizens. We’re encouraging members of the LGBT community and our allies to consider those options instead of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air––which are part of the Sultan’s Dorchester Collection. In addition, we’re calling on organizations that have upcoming events scheduled at these hotels to move them to other locations."

Griffin continued, "I have attended various events at both hotels over the past several years.  But given the extreme nature of these developments, I feel strongly that we in the LGBT community and our allies should take our business elsewhere.”