The call for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel Air has gained traction with an announcement by Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter that she will 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. On CBS’s The Talk, Sharon Osbourne announced her support for the boycott.
The boycott is a result of a decision by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, 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. Bolkiah is the owner of the Dorcester Collection, a group of upscale hotels that includes iconic properties such as the Principe de Savoia in Milan, the Dorchester in London and Le Meurice in Paris in addition to the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills.
In addition to the FMF cancellation, the Gill Action Fund, a major LGBT rights organization, has cancelled plans to hold a meeting of major donors to gay rights campaigns at the Beverly Hills Hotel beginning tomorrow. Also, shoe designer Brian Atwood and fashion designer Peter Som 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.
“I will not frequent an establishment that is owned by a person who says they are going to stone [to death] gays,” Osbourne said. “All we are doing by frequenting his hotels is making him richer and richer.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation will move the Global Awards to the Hammer Museum in Westwood on Monday evening. At noon on Monday, FMF will organize a rally in the park across Sunset Boulevard from the hotel to demand that the Sultan not implement the new penal code.
“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.
“‘Kill-a-gay’ laws, or laws that allow the flogging of women for abortion, violate international law and have no place in civilized society,” said Mavis Leno, an FMF board member and the wife of Jay Leno.
A website also has been launched supporting the boycott.
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.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is listed as a participant in the Concours d’Elegance, an event that will be staged on Sunday by the City of Beverly Hills. The event will offer a tour of Greystone Mansion, which has served as the backdrop for many movies. Heather Sumagaysay, a publicist for the city, said the hotel is offering special guest packages for visitors in conjunction with the event. When questioned about the City of Beverly Hills’ relationship with the Beverly Hills Hotel, Mayor Lili Bosse emailed a statement to WEHOville that said: “The imposition of a harsh form of Sharia law in Brunei is shocking, inhumane and a big step backwards for basic human rights. I support any efforts by the international community to condemn this action.”
Ms. Bosse did not, however, respond to a question asking whether the City of Beverly Hills would dissociate itself from the Beverly Hills Hotel, which it has been promoting as a place to stay during the Concours d’Elegance event.
Despite the international reaction, newspapers in Beverly Hills have been mute on boycott. John Seitz, senior editor of the Beverly Hills Courier, said his newspaper will not write about the boycott or about the plans of owner of the Bel Air and Beverly Hills hotels to implement laws condemning gay and lesbian people to death by stoning and women who have abortions to flogging.
“We hardly want to promote that,” Seitz told WEHOville. “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. Neither publisher Josh Gross nor editor Nancy Yeang returned calls from WEHOville seeking comment as to why.