Jay Leno-Chaired Awards Event Pulls Out of Beverly Hills Hotel
Organizers of a women's rights event, co-chaired by Jay Leno and his wife, Mavis, have dropped the Beverly Hills Hotel as the location for its Global Women’s Rights Awards gala May 5 due to the hotel's ties to the Sultan of Brunei.
"We cannot hold a human rights and women's rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women's rights and human rights," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, in a statement.
Instead, a protest of the hotel is planned at noon May 5 across the street from it.
" 'Kill-a-gay' laws, or laws that allow the flogging of women for abortion, violate international law and have no place in civilized society,” said Feminist Majority foundation board member Mavis Leno in the statement.
The Dorchester Collection hotel is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is controlled by the leader of the Southeast Asian nation of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Last October, the sultan had announced plans for a revised penal code which "introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for crimes of a sexual nature," a United Nations news release on Apr. 11 stated.
The "enforcement of Sharia law phase one" is set to go into effect May 1, Bolkiah announced Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse.
The latest round of protests against the Beverly Hills Hotel and other Dorchester Collection properties -- which includes Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles -- were kickstarted earlier this month when an LGBT political advocacy group, the Gill Action Fund, reportedly canceled a conference at the location.
On April 26, a group of about 15 people -- including actress Beth Grant (The Mindy Project) and Jennifer Howell of charity Art of Elysium -- gathered at the Hotel to protest the Sultan of Brunei's ownership.
A Beverly Hills Hotel spokesperson issued a statement to THR at the time. "We continue to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind," the statement read. "The laws that exist in other countries outside of where Dorchester Collection operates do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels."
The Global Women's Rights Awards will be held at the Hammer Museum on May 5, with Jay Leno and actress Rosario Dawson set to attend. The Feminist Majority Foundation, which organizes on women's equality issues, also publishes Ms. Magazine.