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Vacancy at the Beverly Hills Hotel Over Owner’s Anti-Gay Stance

Tuesday May 6, 2014
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  (Source:Matt Sayles, File/ Associated Press)

Things are about to get considerably less glamorous at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The famed hotel has become the target of a very loud and publicized boycott by the entertainment industry and now, Hollywood A-listers are enraged by the recent implementation of sharia law that makes homosexuality and adultery punishable by death by stoning in Brunei, the home country of the hotel’s owner Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Among the many organizations who have pulled the plug on holding their high profile events at the hotel is the Motion Picture Television Fund, whose Night Before fundraiser held on Oscar Night Eve has been a staple of the Hollywood glitterati social calendar since 2003.

"Representatives of MPTF met with the leadership of the Dorchester Collection and executives from The Beverly Hills Hotel to convey our deep concern about the recent enactment of laws in Brunei that call for violent punishment, including amputation and death by stoning, against those engaging in same-sex activity and extramarital sexual relations, and those committing adultery," MPTF officials said in a statement Monday. "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."

Although the 2014 Night Before party is nine months away, according to Variety, several other high profile events scheduled to take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the near future have relocated. The Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs is moving Tuesday’s Impact Awards to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and nonprofit organization Teen Line is moving its upcoming tribute to Sony’s Amy Pascal out of the hotel.

The Hollywood Reporter has since announced plans to move its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast event from the BHH in December.

On Monday at a protest organized by Feminist Majority across the street from the hotel, members of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center joined Jay Leno and his wife Mavis who serves on the board of Feminist Majority. The organization’s annual Global Women’s Rights Awards event announced its relocation from the hotel last week.

"The Beverly Hills Hotel is like the Clippers; the Sultan of Brunei is like Donald Sterling, Does that make it clear?" quipped Leno in reference to the recent decision by the NBA to ban the team’s owner from the game over racist comments leaked to the press.

Several other groups and public figures pledged to take their business away from the Beverly Hills Hotel until the Brunei law is repealed or the Sultan sells the property.

Those not part of a formally announced boycott may feel the pinch of peer pressure to stay away from the hotel. The New York Times reported that one executive who endorses the boycott - and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality strictures - said he now expects prominent people who are spotted at the hotel to receive private calls from one or another of their peers, urging them to honor the boycott.

According to The Wrap, Beverly Hills mayor, Lili Bosse said she will ask her city’s Council to urge the Brunei Investment Agency to divest itself of the historic hotel.

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