The century-old The Beverly Hills Hotel has been the target of boycotts for over a year due to is ownership by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), an arm of the Ministry of Finance of Brunei, and Hassanal Bolkiah, the absolute monarch of Brunei. BIA also owns the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and other luxury hotels across Europe operated by the Dorchester Collection.
Now, the subject of the boycott is drawing even greater attention due to the implementation of a new penal code including death by stoning as punishment for same-sex acts in Brunei, a sovereign state in southeast Asia on the island of Borneo, which is shared with the countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei’s estimated population is 422,675.
The United Nations Human Rights Office wasted no time in issuing a statement this month (April 2014) voicing “deep concern about the revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences, including robbery, adultery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammed, and introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for crimes of a sexual nature” which becomes effective on April 22, 2014.
“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“We urge the Government to delay the entry into force of the revised penal code and to conduct a comprehensive review ensuring its compliance with international human rights standards,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
“The provisions of the revised penal code may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation,” he warned.
In response to the international attention to this change in law, the Dorchester Collection reportedly issued the following statement:
Here at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, California, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind. We are also against any law in any other country around the world that punishes people for their religious beliefs, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. The laws and policies that govern how we run our hotel have nothing to do with the laws that exist in any other country outside of the United States.
Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasizes equality, respect and integrity. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and strongly value people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees.
The historical significance and name of The Beverly Hills Hotel is hardly lost on the Hollywood scene, but could this issue continue to garner attention as boycotts grow? Most likely, yes. For example, the Gill Action Fund recently announced it is moving a conference set for early May to a different location “due to the government of Brunei’s new penal code.”
Would the ownership of a hotel alter your decision to patronize it for your stay or event?
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