Image Credit: File photo by Dennisakino 11 via Twenty20
The international backlash against the tiny Muslim-majority nation of Brunei, which implemented inhumane and anti-LGBT Sharia laws from Wednesday April 3, 2019, has widened, with companies joining George Clooney's call for a Brunei Boycott.
Strict sharia laws have been implemented in stages since 2014, and under this final phase, gay sex and adultery will be punishable by death by stoning, lesbian sexual acts will be punished with 40 whips of the cane or a 10 year jail sentence and theft punishable by amputation.
George Clooney wrote a column for Deadline.com, calling on people to boycott nine Sultan of Brunei-owned hotels, which are run by the Dorchester Collection: 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.
“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.”
Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres and Billy Jean King have since joined the call.
Companies from around the world have begun to boycott the hotels. The TV Choice Awards have been moved form the Dorchester Hotel in London, whilst the English National Ballet, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Tempus Magazine have all announced that they are reviewing their associations with the hotel.
The Financial Times has announced that it is cancelling an event at the Dorchester and will no longer use the hotel, whilst Deutsche Bank is no longer allowing staff to stay at the Dorchester.
“The new laws introduced by Brunei breach the most basic human rights, and we believe it is our duty as a firm to take action against them,” the Deutsche Bank's Stuart Lewis said in a statement.
Virgin Australia has terminated a deal with Royal Brunei Airlines and STA Travel has announced that it will no longer book flights with the airline.
The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agency has suspended a project in Brunei.
“HSE is an inclusive organisation and strongly supports LGBT+ rights. Any commercial discussions will now be paused while we review the situation,” a HSE spokesperson said.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, is pulling adverts promoting Brunei as a tourist destination from the city’s transport network.
The University of Aberdeen and King’s College London have said they are reviewing the honorary degrees they have given to the sultan. The University of Oxford gave the Sultan an honorary diploma in 1993 and more than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling on the University to rescind the degree.
Hundreds of protesters surrounded the Dorchester Hotel in London on Saturday April 6.
“We are urging countries worldwide to suspend diplomatic, economic and military relations with Brunei and to threaten boycotts, sanctions and disinvestments if these extremist Sharia punishments are not revoked,” said Peter Tatchell, LGBT rights campaigner and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation
“The UK Royal Family must stop hosting the Sultan and cut all ties with his despotic regime. Brunei should be suspended from the commonwealth.”
The Dorchester Collection group is feeling the strain of the boycott, posting a notice on its website saying:
“Inclusion, diversity and equality are the foundation of Dorchester Collection. We understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played out in our hotels.”
“Our values are far removed from the politics of ownership.”
Due to an intense social media backlash, the Dorchester Collection has deactivated or protected the twitter and Instagram accounts of all nine hotels.
“Dorchester Collection is an inclusive and diverse company and does not tolerate any form of discrimination,” the Dorchester Collection posted on Twitter.
“Although we believe in open and transparent communication, we have reluctantly deactivated our hotel social pages due to the personal abuse directed at our employees for who we have a duty of care.”
"Dorchester Collection's Code emphasises equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees."