The Beverly Hills City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday that calls on the Sultan of Brunei to divest himself of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The resolution is being proposed by Mayor Lili Bosse, who also is asking the Council to condemn laws being implemented by the Sultan in Brunei that “impose harsh penalties including death by stoning for homosexuality and other behaviors.”
Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan, has begun implementing laws based on Islamic Shariah law that call for flogging of women who have abortions and the death by stoning of those who engage in gay or lesbian sex. That has sparked a campaign to boycott hotels that are part of the Dorchester Collection, which Bolkiah owns. Those hotels include the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills.
Several groups have cancelled planned events at the Beverly Hills Hotel because of Bolkiah’s implementation of the new laws and celebrities such as Sharon Osbourne an Ellen DeGeneres have said they will boycott the hotel. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has announced that it is moving its Global Women’s Rights Awards event, scheduled for Monday, from the Beverly Hills Hotel and will organize a demonstration across from the hotel at noon on Monday.
Bosse’s resolution says “the City of Beverly Hills has a productive and positive relationship with the hotel that goes back more than 100 years. The laws in Brunei do not affect the operation of The Beverly Hills Hotel and are no reflection on the hotel’s management and staff. The City’s actions are intended to contribute to local and international outrage and help reverse polices and laws in Brunei that do not uphold international human rights.”
Bosse’s resolution spurred the Beverly Hills Courier, the city’s leading newspaper, to finally write about the boycott. The newspaper’s senior editor, John Seitz, told WEHOville on Wednesday that his newspaper would not write about the boycott. “We don’t particularly want to promote boycotts of our institutions here,” he said. “We try to promote our local businesses.”
Bolkiah implemented the first round of his Shariah laws this week. They call for fines and jail sentences for failure to attend Friday prayers, indecent behavior and pregnancy outside of marriage. While 70 percent of the wealthy country’s 400,000 residents are Muslim, the laws apply to people of all faiths. Later this year Brunei will begin flogging and severing the arms and legs of people who commit property crimes. Late next year the Sultan intends to implement a requirement that those who commit adultery or engage in gay sex be stoned to death.
The Beverly Hills Hotel, at 8641 Sunset Blvd., opened in 1912 and quickly became a favored destination for celebrities such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John Wayne and Henry Fonda. Marvin Davis, a Denver oil millionaire, bought the hotel in 1986 for $136 million in cash and promptly sold it to the Brunei Investment Agency, which manages the investments of the Sultan, who is worth an estimated $20 billion. Brunei is ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest country in the world. While it has a parliament, it is effectively ruled single-handled by the Sulton, whose full name is Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah.