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George Clooney protests Brunei’s anti-gay laws, boycotts Beverly Hills Hotel

Brunei Anti-gay Laws

George Clooney has called for an immediate boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air, and seven other luxury hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who says gay people should be killed. Photo: Alan Light/Flickr

George Clooney has called for an immediate boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air, and seven other luxury hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who says gay people should be killed.

Sultan of Brunei

The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who also acts as the country’s prime minister, owns these luxury hotels, which as a group are managed and owned by the Dorchester Collection. That entity was formed in 1996 to manage the hotel interests of the Brunei Investment Agency.

The tiny, oil-rich kingdom of Brunei has approximately 450,000 residents and is located on the island of Borneo, close to moderate Islamic nations of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Beginning Wednesday, anyone in Brunei found guilty of adultery or being gay will be stoned to death, according to a new penal code.

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George Clooney speaks out

“Let’s be clear, 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,” Clooney said today in a letter published by Deadline.

“Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?

“I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them,” Clooney said. “But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

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The 9 hotels Clooney boycotts

  • The Dorchester, London
  • 45 Park Lane, London
  • Coworth Park, UK
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
  • Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
  • Hotel Eden, Rome
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

Brunei’s anti-gay laws

The country’s horrific laws, including the anti-gay codes, were announced in 2014, and gradually have been rolled out.

At that time, several celebrities and businesses boycotted the Beverly Hills Hotel and The Hotel Bel-Air, but that effort was short lived, which Clooney references in his letter.

International outcry erupted when Brunei became the first country in the region to adopt its brutal laws in 2014.

The latest phase of implementation was quietly announced on the Brunei attorney general’s website late last year.

Human rights groups quickly condemned the penal code, which would also punish theft with amputation.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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