A large crowd turned out for a rally protesting the decision by the owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air to implement a version of Sharia law that calls for flogging women who have abortions and stoning to death gay men and women.
Among those attending the rally, staged across from the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard at noon, were Jay Leno and his wife Mavis, who is a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). The foundation announced last week that it was moving its Global Women’s Rights Awards event, scheduled for tonight at the Beverly Hills Hotel, to the Hammer Museum in Westwood. Others in attendance were Eleanor Smeal, FMF president; Andreas Meyer, president of Equality California; Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center; Dolores Huerta, president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the United Farm Workers; Vince Wong, vice chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Betsy Butler of the California Women’s Law Center; Ada Briceno, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 11, and Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. magazine.
Today’s protest comes on the heels of cancellations of several events at the hotel to protest the decision by the Sultan of Brunei to implement Sharia laws. The Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, is the absolute ruler of Brunei, a small nation of 400,000 people with vast oil wealth. He is reputedly worth $20 billion. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air are part of a group of high end hostelries in the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.
The Gill Action Fund, a major LGBT rights organization, cancelled plans to hold a meeting of major donors to gay rights campaigns scheduled at the Beverly Hills Hotel for last week. Today the Motion Picture Television Fund announced that it will move its annual “Night Before” fundraiser, held the night before the Oscars, from the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“Representatives of MPTF met with the leadership of the Dorchester Collection and executives from The Beverly Hills Hotel to convey our deep concern about the recent enactment of laws in Brunei that call for violent punishment, including amputation and death by stoning, against those engaging in same-sex activity and extramarital sexual relations, and those committing adultery,” said MPTF Chairman Bob Pisano, Vice Chairman Mark Fleischer and CEO Bob Beitcher in a joint statement. “We expressed very clearly that we cannot condone or tolerate these…”
Ellen DeGenere and Sharon Osbourne have announced that they will not patronize the Beverly Hills Hotel, a famed gathering place for Hollywood celebrities. Richard Branson also has announced that his Virgin Airlines employees will not patronize Dorchester Group properties.
The Beverly Hills Hotel has issued a statement saying that its policies and practices are not in any way governed by the laws of Brunei and stressing its commitment to diversity and equality.
The Beverly Hills City Council is scheduled to take up a resolution tomorrow night proposed by Mayor Lili Bosse that condemns the Sharia laws and asks the Sultan to divest himself of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Center will hold a “town hall” meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the its Renberg Theatre 1125 N. McCadden Place in Los Angeles to discuss next steps in approaching the issues surrounding the Sultan’s policies and his ownership of the hotel.
See more pictures of the rally below: