A boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels and airlines is gaining momentum after the country announced this week it was punishing homosexuality by stoning offenders to death.
Many of the five-star hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei, including The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, deleted their social media in midst of the backlash sparked by celebrities such as George Clooney and Ellen DeGeneres.
The New Islamic criminal laws took effect Wednesday, stating those found guilty of gay sex (including children and foreigners) can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offence and a left foot on their second.
Clooney, DeGeneres and Elton John were quick to voice opposition to the new laws and called for a boycott of the nine hotels in the U.S. and Europe with ties to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The nine hotels include:
- The Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles
- Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
- The Dorchester, London, U.K.
- 45 Park Lane, London, U.K.
- Coworth Park, Ascot, U.K.
- Le Meurice, Paris, France
- Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris, France
- Hotel Eden, Rome, Italy
- Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan, Italy
On Tuesday, DeGeneres took to Twitter to urge her fans to boycott the properties.
“Tomorrow, the country of #Brunei will start stoning gay people to death. We need to do something now. Please boycott these hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up,” the tweet read.
The nine hotels have now either deleted their social media accounts or made them inaccessible.
TripAdvisor even banned reviews for some of the hotels on its platform.
For example, when searching The Dorchester on the website, it states: “Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing. If you’ve had a first-hand experience at this property, please check back soon — we’re looking forward to receiving your review!”
Dorchester Collection, the company that manages the nine hotels, took to Twitter on Tuesday to respond to the backlash, saying it is an “inclusive and diverse company and does not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
The company said although it believes in open and transparent communication, it deleted its hotel social media pages due to abuse directed at its employees.
The Dorchester Collection is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is run by Brunei’s ministry of finance.
Despite the company’s statement, more companies are boycotting Brunei over anti-gay laws.
London-based newspaper the Financial Times said on its website that it is cancelling a planned event at the Dorchester Hotel and would not use any other Dorchester Collection hotels.
Deutsche Bank, a German multinational investment bank, said its employees would no longer use Dorchester hotels on company business.
“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 boycott has also spread to Brunei’s national airline. On Thursday, Virgin Australia cancelled its deal with Royal Brunei Airlines in response to the country’s death penalty for gay sex, according to The Guardian. STA Travel in the United Kingdom also announced it is taking a stance against the airline.
A similarly named hotel, not owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, also has been impacted by the boycotts.