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“In light of recent events,” reads the caption on the Dorchester Collection’s posts on Instagram and Twitter on Wednesday announcing that all of the hotel group’s social media pages have been deactivated due to “personal abuse” directed at employees. The news comes on the day when anti-gay laws are reportedly going into effect in Brunei, the Southest Asian country led by Dorchester Collection owner Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The implementation of these laws — known as sharia laws, which, if broken, call for punishments ranging from amputation to death by stoning for crimes like theft, adultery and homosexuality — triggered a call for a boycott from A-list stars George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Sharon Stone, Ellen Pompeo and others who have urged the public to stop visiting Dorchester Collection hotels. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air are two of those properties that have long been frequented by the Hollywood community.
This is not the first call for such a boycott. In 2014, when news of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s passage of sharia law first broke, Hollywood rallied to boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel as the United Nations said sharia law “constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited.” The events business at the hotel took a nosedive and traffic inside industry-favored restaurant The Polo Lounge decreased over the course of approximately two years. In recent years, however, business returned and the boycott was all but forgotten as the implementation of the punishments reportedly lagged.
Major fashion events hosted by Chanel and The Daily returned, as have stars like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Calvin Klein and Miley Cyrus, along with other influential Hollywood insiders. Once news spread last month that sharia law was finally going into effect, calls for a renewed boycott started to grow, boosted by Clooney, who posted two op-eds on Deadline. DeGeneres then kicked it up a notch on Tuesday when she shared the call for a boycott with her 69.3 million Instagram followers and 77.3 million Twitter followers. The posts listed the Dorchester Collection properties across the globe (a total of nine luxury hotels), something Clooney also did in his editorial.
This is a major change from the 2014 boycott, which focused primarily on the Beverly Hills Hotel. Also new: Stars have rallied behind Clooney and DeGeneres and shared their calls for a boycott on Twitter and Instagram. The Hollywood Reporter learned the boycott is already having an impact on the Beverly Hills Hotel’s events business, as the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Guild Gala has been moved to the Beverly Wilshire. That event, to be held May 2 and honoring Jane and Marc Nathanson with the Humanitarian Award, boasts a program that also includes host Kevin Nealon, entertainment by Wilson Phillips and a special introduction by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
It’s unclear just how much the boycott will affect the Sultan’s bottom line. Speculation online has said that the Dorchester Collection represents a small fraction of his income, while critics of the boycott say those most affected are innocent hotel employees. The deactivation of the hotel’s individual social media accounts is due to abuse directed at those employees, per Wednesday’s announcement, presumably in the comments sections. Read the Dorchester Collection’s full statement below.
In light of recent events. pic.twitter.com/a8SoivIrX7
— DorchesterCollection (@DC_LuxuryHotels) April 3, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/24KJsemPGH
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 2, 2019
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