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Shun the Sultan!

Boycott of Sultan of brunei’s hotels!

New laws taking effect this week in Brunei include punishing consensual adult same-gender sex with death … by stoning. Actor George Clooney is calling for the renewal of a boycott of hotels owned by the ruling Sultan of Brunei that began when the enactment of Sharia was first announced in 2014. Clooney provided this list of hotels:

FranceHotel Plaza Athenee, Paris 
Le Meurice, Paris 
ItalyHotel Principe di Savoia, Milan 
Hotel Eden, Rome
UKCoworth Park, Berkshire 
45 Park Lane, London 
The Dorchester, London 
USAThe Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills 
Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles

Listen to This Way Out’s NewsWrap (April 1) for more on this breaking story!

UPDATE: A growing number of human rights groups, politicians and celebrities are denouncing the implementation of Sharia in Brunei, including the UN, the US State Department and Sir Elton John.

In a guest column for Deadline, Clooney said:

"They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let’s be clear, every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery. Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way."

Organizations and individuals quickly began to follow Clooney’s lead.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement:

“I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented …. Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have denounced Brunei’s implementation of Sharia and all of its brutal implications. Amnesty Brunei Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said, “Pending provisions in Brunei’s Penal Code would allow stoning and amputation as punishments – including for children, to name only their most heinous aspects,” and called on the international community to condemn the move. Chhoa-Howard added that, “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion, and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.”

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark called the new penal code “shocking,” and found it, “Hard to comprehend what could be driving such a barbaric move which stands in stark opposition to fundamental #humanrights principles.

“No one should face the death penalty because of who they love. Brunei’s decision is barbaric,” Britain’s international development minister Penny Mordaunt tweeted. UK activist Peter Tatchel told The Independent, “Brunei is a member of the Commonwealth. This law is in violation of the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Commonwealth Charter. The Secretary General must speak out against Brunei’s threat to LGBT human rights.”

Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb sent a statement to Out Magazine saying, “It’s absolutely crucial that the international community speak out now and demand that the Sultan of Brunei stop these barbaric changes that threaten the lives of Brunei citizens.” Cobb demanded that the Trump-Pence Administration come out against the new laws.

GLAAD endorsed the boycott on Twitter:

Thank you, George Clooney. We're calling on all LGBTQ people and allies to follow suit and boycott the Sultan of Brunei’s hotels over the cruel anti-LGBTQ laws in the country.

Sir Elton John also took to Twitter to express his support for Clooney’s action, and to acknowledge the potential harm to workers at the Sultan’s non-union properties:

“Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay.

“We must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable. That’s why David and I have long refused to stay at these hotels and will continue to do so. We hope you will join us in solidarity.”

Other celebrities have also endorsed the boycott on social media, including queer notables such as musicians Rufus Wainwright and Belinda Carlisle, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk, and allies actor Jamie Lee Curtis and attorney Lisa Bloom.

Despite the Trump Administration’s open hostility toward transpeople at home, a statement from the U.S. State Department said, “We strongly oppose human rights violations and abuses against LGBTI persons, including violence.”

U.S. presidential hopefuls also weighed in. “There is no excuse — not culture, not tradition — for this kind of hate and inhumanity,” according to Senator Kamala Harris of California, adding, “These human rights abuses cannot be tolerated.” Former vice president and possible Democratic candidate Joe Biden tweeted, “Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral …”

Even 2016 presidential and reliably anti-LGBT Senator Ted Cruz was on Twitter in support of the protest.

“Here are words I’ve never said before: I agree with George Clooney. Brunei’s laws criminalizing homosexuality — and imposing capital punishment — are immoral, barbaric & inhumane. We should stand united in condemning them & not give our $$ to those who perpetuate oppression.”

Listen to This Way Out’s NewsWrap (April 1) for more on this breaking story!


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