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In 2014, Hollywood insiders focused their attention on the Southeast Asian country Brunei after its leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, announced the implementation of Sharia law, which calls for stoning, amputation and other penalties for such crimes as theft, adultery and homosexuality.
Because the Sultan of Brunei owns the Dorchester Collection hotel group that oversees longtime industry favorite the Beverly Hills Hotel, a boycott ensued that pulled pretty much all of the Hollywood business from the hotel’s ballroom and its restaurant, the Polo Lounge.
Jeffrey Katzenberg was among the first to take a stand, as he was instrumental in pulling the MPTF’s Night Before party in protest. However, in recent years, the boycott lost steam and A-listers returned to their old stomping grounds. On March 17, Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson, Juliette Lewis, Courtney Love and Queer Eye‘s Tan France filed into the hotel for The Daily Front Row’s Fashion Los Angeles Awards. A few weeks earlier, on Feb. 23, Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart, Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and Alfonso Cuarón piled inside, as well, partying at a pre-Oscar event hosted by Chanel. “We were nervous,” one insider tells THR about holding an event at the hotel, “but nobody said anything.”
But now comes word that in just a few days — on April 3 — the sultan will finally begin enforcing the new laws. (According to reports, implementation stalled due to widespread criticism.) Because of that, LGBTQ activist and boycott supporter James Duke Mason (who wrote a guest column on the hotel for THR in 2016) is calling for the continuation of the boycott, which he says never officially ended.
“This horrific news should serve as a reminder that the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel has not ended. Nothing has changed. The sultan’s draconian Sharia policy of torturing and murdering gay people is not only still in place in Brunei, but it is ramping up. None of the principal founders or supporters of the boycott have gone back. The hotel’s PR spin team can try to spread ‘fake news’ as much as they want about the boycott ‘fizzling,’ but that doesn’t change the truth that patronizing the hotel remains nothing short of approval of and complicity in the sultan’s extreme anti-LGBTQ policies.”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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