In the year 2019, the country of Brunei is home to a population of almost 429,000 people. It’s ruled by the Sultan of Brunei, a man worth approximately $20 billion. And as of April 3, it will be home to some of the most brutal anti-LGBTQ laws in the world. “Statutes allowing stoning and amputation will go into effect,” for those found guilty of adultery and gay sex, according to the New York Times.
In response, actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine famous hotels, including the beloved Beverly Hills Hotel and the Bel-Air. Why? Because they’re owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is, in turn, owned by the Sultan of Brunei. So how better to show opposition to these draconian laws than by hitting the famously money-hungry sultan’s income stream.
Fellow celebrities were quick to answer Clooney’s call.
Clooney wrote an op-ed in Deadline outlining the need for a boycott:
They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But 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.
This isn’t the first time celebrities have boycotted these properties either. Per the NYT, in 2013, when Brunei first announced they would be implementing harsh punishments for homosexuality, they were met with massive protests and backed off of the “harshest provisions” of its new laws. But as they push forward, so, Clooney says, must the boycott.
Celebrities like Belinda Carlisle, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lance Bass, and Rufus Wainwright have all responded in turn.
As for whether or not this will have any bearing on the Sultan himself? Clooney writes, “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. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”
The following are the hotels in the boycott — many of which are five-star properties of great renown:
- 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