- Five-star hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei have quit social media after the country was slammed for making death by stoning the punishment for being gay.
- The Dorchester in London and The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles were among eight hotels that deleted Twitter accounts on Wednesday after George Clooney called for a boycott.
- The new law – based on a form of Islamic law used in Brunei since 2014 – took effect in the Southeast Asian kingdom on Wednesday.
- The sultan of Brunei owns the Brunei Investment Agency, which in turn owns nine of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
Numerous luxury hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei have abandoned social media after a furious backlash to Brunei’s decision to make death by stoning the punishment for homosexuality.
Eight hotels, including The Dorchester in London and The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, deleted social-media accounts on Wednesday, the same day a new law ordered by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah came into effect. The law makes homosexuality punishable by stoning to death.
Celebrities including George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres called for a boycott of nine hotels on March 28, when the law was widely reported in the media.
This image naming the hotels and urging a boycott went viral:
Tomorrow, the country of #Brunei will start stoning gay people to death. We need to do something now. Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up. pic.twitter.com/24KJsemPGH
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 2, 2019
As the backlash rolled on, Twitter accounts belonging to the following hotels disappeared:
- The Dorchester (London)
- 45 Park Lane (London)
- Coworth Park (Ascot, UK)
- The Beverly Hills Hotel (Los Angeles)
- Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles)
- Le Meurice (Paris)
- Hotel Plaza Athénée (Paris)
- Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan)
Clooney wrote an op-ed article for the news site Deadline on March 28, outlining the need for a boycott.
“Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery,” he wrote.
All nine hotels are run by a company called Dorchester Collection, which is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. The agency is owned by the sultan.
Dorchester Collection published a statement on Twitter on Wednesday saying it “does not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
In light of recent events. pic.twitter.com/a8SoivIrX7
— DorchesterCollection (@DC_LuxuryHotels) April 3, 2019
The new law also includes harsher penalties for theft: the amputation of the right hand for a first offence and a left-foot amputation for a second offence.
All of the new laws require multiple Muslim witnesses to crimes for the penalties to be upheld. In practice, this can make sexual crimes difficult to prosecute.
Homosexuality has been illegal for the 423,000 people living in the state – officially known as “Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace” – since its formal independence from British rule in 1984.
The oil-rich nation on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian archipelago, is ruled by Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest heads of state, with a net worth of about $US20 billion.
The nation punishes many crimes harshly, with some drug offenses meriting the death penalty.
Alcohol is banned, and having children before marriage or failing to pray on a Friday are acts punishable with jail time, The Guardian reported.
Dorchester Collection did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
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