In a unanimous decision, the Beverly Hills City Council voted Tuesday to ask the government of Brunei to divest its interest in the company that owns the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The hotel has faced a protest and a high-profile boycott as a result of its connection with Brunei, where Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (the absolute ruler of the small nation) has begun implementing a shockingly severe version of Sharia law. Laws that call for the death by stoning for gay and lesbian sex are set to be enacted next year.
The laws being enacted in the southeast Asian nation sparked outrage in the 9-0-2-1-0 neighborhood because the Brunei Investment Agency owns the Dorchester Collection. Dorchester runs the Beverly Hills Hotel as well as Hotel Bel-Air, which is located in Los Angeles.
Senior L.A. city officials say they will boycott both hotels and are asking all Angelenos to do the same, City News Service reported. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says there’s no place in the world for that sort of violence and hate, especially when directed by a government toward its citizens.
If Brunei decides to take the Beverly Hills City Council’s suggestion and sell, the Hollywood Reporter has identified one potential buyer: billionaire Haim Saban, who indicated he may be interested in buying both hotels if the price is right.
Also expressing outrage is Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, whose CEO penned a letter to Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. In the letter, dated May 5, Thomas Priselac wrote:
Thank you for your May 2 letter about the draconian penal code reforms in Brunei decreed by
the Sultan of Brunei …These ‘reforms,’ which have been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and many other prominent international organizations, would, among other atrocities, subject members of the LGBT community in Brunei to death by stoning because of their sexual orientation, and would subject women with out-of-wedlock pregnancies to the same punishment.
As an organization that has been dedicated for more than a century to the health of everyone
in our community, and which has been a supporter of the LGBT community in many different
ways, Cedars-Sinai supports the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to encourage
organizations to hold their events at hotels that are not owned by the Sultan of Brunei.
As waves of outrage rippled out, Dorchester Collection CEO Christopher Cowdray stunned many when he staked a claim on apathy. He told CBS This Morning that he had no opinion about laws in Brunei calling for flogging women who have abortions and stoning to death gay men and women.
“I don’t have any opinion whatsoever,” Cowdray said. “I’m not prepared to comment on that.”
Lorri Jean, CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, wrote a letter to Cowdray objecting to his unwillingness to take a stand on the issue.
The hashtag #StoptheSultan is being used in Twitter discussions about the issue.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will hold a “town hall” meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at its Village location, 1125 N. McCadden Place in Los Angeles, to discuss issues surrounding the Sultan’s policies and his ownership of the hotel.
City News Service contributed to this report.