Los Angeles: Officials and LGBTQ leaders in California joined Tuesday a growing chorus of people calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels in the Los Angeles area. The call to boycott the fabled Beverly Hills Hotel, once the playground of Hollywood celebrities, and Hotel Bel-Air came after the sultanate announced plans to implement the death penalty for gay sex and adultery.
“As a citywide elected official, I represent a diverse community of Angelenos, and I call on everyone to boycott the hotels owned by Brunei’s royal family,” LA Controller Ron Galperin said in a statement. “I will not set foot in these establishments so long as they are owned and controlled by a regime that is willing to kill LGBTQ people.
“While I feel bad for the many hard-working employees of these local hotels, no one should support or attend any events there while lives are on the line.” Los Angeles Council member Paul Koretz said people should shun both hotels even “if that means marring their reputation and fabled history.”
“The city of Los Angeles and the United States and world should place severe sanctions on Brunei for taking LGBTQ rights back to the Stone Age,” said Karina Samala, chair of the Transgender Advisory Council. “We are all human beings with a right to live in freedom.” British pop legend Elton John and American actor George Clooney have also called for a boycott of the hotels and other properties owned by the sultanate in Britain, France and Italy.
The new Islamic penal code, or Sharia law, which is to come into force in the tiny southeast Asian sultanate on Wednesday, has already drawn fierce criticism from rights groups and the United Nations. Brunei first announced the measures in 2013, but implementation has been delayed, in the face of opposition by rights groups, and as officials worked out the practical details.
The new law stipulates the death penalty for a number of offences, including rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insulting or defaming the Prophet Mohammed. It also introduces public flogging as punishment for abortion, as well as amputation for theft, and criminalises exposing Muslim children to the beliefs and practices of any religion besides Islam.
Since the new penal code was first announced in 2013, the who’s who of Hollywood have shunned the celebrated Beverly Hills Hotel painted in pink and green and once a favorite of celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor and The Beatles. Local news reports say the hotel has lost millions of dollars in business as a result of the long-running unofficial boycott.
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