Hotel Dropped By Oscars Party Over Sharia Code
The annual Oscars Night Before party has been pulled from the Beverly Hills Hotel because of its ties to Brunei, which has recently pushed ahead with a tough new sharia legal code.
The Hollywood venue is owned by the tiny oil-rich country's ruler, Sultan of Brunei†Hassanal Bolkiah.
The country's new penal code calls for tough new punishments - including death by stoning, the severing of limbs and flogging - for adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships.
The Motion Picture & Television Fund officials, who host the event, said there was "deep concern about the recent enactment of laws in Brunei".
In a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter, its top executives said: "We expressed very clearly that we cannot condone or tolerate these harsh and repressive laws, and, as a result, support a business owned by the Sultan of Brunei or a Brunei sovereign fund associated with the government of Brunei."
But Christopher Cowdray, chief executive officer at Dorchester Collection, which is linked to the sultan, said: "Today's global economy needs to be placed in a broader perspective.
"Most of us are not aware of the investors behind the brands that have become an integral part of our everyday life, from the petrol we put in our cars, to the clothes we wear, to the way we use social media, and to the hotels we frequent."
Mr Cowdray added that the company abides by the laws of the countries in which it operates.
"Other countries' laws do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels. Our reputation, which has been built on service and integrity, speaks for itself. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, we never have and we never will."
The Motion Picture & Television Fund is the latest in a growing list of organisations and individuals refusing to stay at, or do business with, hotels owned by the sultan or government of Brunei.
Civil rights activists have been holding protests outside and have been supported by celebrities including Jay Leno. He joined a gathering of Women's Rights and LGBT groups on Monday.
British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson tweeted at the weekend: "No @Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights."
Other celebrities backing the boycott include TV presenter Ellen DeGeneres, who was among the first to tweet her support, saying: "I won't be visiting the Hotel Bel-Air or the Beverly Hills Hotel until this is resolved."
British actor Stephen Fry has pledged not to stay at the hotel - or its sister hotels - and urged others to follow suit.
The Feminist Majority Foundation pulled its Global Women's Rights Awards this week.
The online cruise travel agents Cruise.co.uk have also announced they will be boycotting the hotels. Any guests booking there will be offered an alternative instead.
The Sultan of Brunei is one of the richest people in the world. His wealth was estimated by Forbes magazine three years ago at around £11bn ($20bn).
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