Why We Can’t Support Hotels Owned by the Sultan of Brunei

Beverly Hills Hotel & BungalowsMuch of Hollywood’s money goes to the Beverly Hills Hotel as it’s a popular spot for conferences, galas, award ceremonies and fundraisers. However, the tony hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, a hotel group owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, dictator of the Southeast Asian nation, Brunei. It has recently come to light that the sultan is implementing a Taliban-like penal code in the industrialized, oil-rich country, which would unleash a slew of draconian punishments on the citizens of Brunei.

The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) had planned to hold its annual Global Women’s Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but now it has canceled in protest. Instead, the awards event will be held on the evening of May 5 at the Hammer Museum in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. In addition, FMF has joined with gay and lesbian and women’s rights groups to protest this gross violation of human rights at a noon rally on May 5, across from the street from the hotel in a park on Sunset Boulevard.

“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 (and publisher of Ms.).

One of the most disquieting of the new codes calls for gay men and lesbians and people convicted of adultery to be stoned to death. Another permits the public flogging of women who have abortions, and a third would jail women who become pregnant outside of marriage.

“Kill-a-gay’ laws, or laws that allow the flogging of women for abortion, violate international law and have no place in civilized society,” say Feminist Majority Foundation board member Mavis Leno.

The laws will be introduced in three phases over the course of three years. Phase one will punish certain offenses with hefty fines or prison time, phase 2 will add such punishments as amputations and floggings for other crimes and the third phase will include crimes punishable by stoning to death.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had “deep concern” about the proposed new laws and the ramifications it would hold for human rights in Brunei.

“The United Nations must condemn the government of Brunei’s plans and explore additional options, including sanctions, if Brunei fails to rescind this decree,” added Kathy Spillar, executive editor of Ms. and the event director.

FMF and Ms. are launching a petition drive calling on the government of Brunei to immediately rescind the new code and asking the United Nations to take action if these laws go into effect. Please sign the petition here, or send a letter to the government of Brunei here. Also join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #StopTheSultan.

 Photo courtesy of VARNISHDesign via Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. elizabeth martin says:

    Please reconsider these laws, they are hurtful to so many people.

  2. We have to stop this! No more Beverly Hills Hotel for me.

  3. Gilda Kimura says:

    I do not and will not support this treatment of people ANYWHERE!

  4. don cannon says:

    I’m with you 1,000%. These kind of politics must be stopped. I’m proud to be a supporter of the Feminist Majority, who is in the forefront of these fights.

  5. #stopthesultan

  6. Abbigale says:

    I think that all reservations should be cancelled at this hotel until it is under new ownership. And any other of his interests in the US be boycotted. This is a blatant abuse of human rights. I can’t imagine that any God would be so cruel. Perhaps it is in the interpretation on the readings.
    If he thinks that he will gain access to “Paradise” this way, he is wrong!

  7. Nicole Hidalgo says:

    I think people will “protest” on social media, but ultimately will still visit/party at this hotel. I hope I’m wrong

  8. HRH Princess LHRRAdziwill says:

    I do stand for Human Rights , we all Human and we do live in 21 centuries ! I can be ignorant and say I do not care much about this Law because I do not live ether in Brunei and I do not intend to get married to Muslim men . What about to men have a four wife and women to have 4 husband then we all can be right ! I wish you all to have Excellent weekend I felt sorry for people that have no right to protest and defense their legal right that are from the God ! I hope that H Majesty may made some adjustment to his proposal .May God Bless Whole world and put wisdom to everybody heart After all we all have only one life and we all wishes to life Happy Healthy Wealthy and in Love ! Good Luck to you all from bottom of my heart . HRH Princess of Poland Lucyna von Hohenzollern Romanoff RAdziwill .

  9. Stop. With the double standards PEOPLE!!!

  10. BS Friedson says:

    His High-and-Mightyness Brunei doesn’t seem to mind making money on the women who spend money at his hotel, many of whom might be be candidates for flogging, limb amputation, or stoning, were the hotel in his country. What a f***ing hypocritical, power-mad SOB, so typical of all the misogynists, and self-ordained sexual police, who think they have the right to play God! I am equally appalled that ownership of a quintessentially American hotel is owned by him. How did that happen? And how many other what we think are American businesses are actually owned by rich, disgusting monsters like him?

  11. As the power of the Mothers and Grandmothers rises, I hope that we can help men to come to love and respect their own feminine origins. Draw on that power of their divine feminine, as well as their divine masculine. Strive for more of the Mother kind of love for All. Often the Father kind of love can turn judgmental and ego can really take over. For example , such a strong preference for boy children. The male heir syndrome. Always a little scared because paternity is so very uncertain. (Unlike maternity!)

    What is the Sultan so afraid of? The power of women, that’s what. So lets show him how we stand in our power. Spread the word and vocally boycott any of this little king’s businesses. (MS, what else does he own?)

  12. Brunei already has a draconian legal code. I wish the Ms. and the Feminist Majority Foundation had taken action years ago.

  13. The country as a whole should cease to do business with this vampire & bar him from visiting here.

  14. This reminds me of when I spent the night in a very lovely Marriot hotel near the LA airport ( to treat myself after dealing with my mom’s death and planning her memorial service) only to discover a Book of Mormon in the drawer. Mormonism has yet to lift up women as leaders in their church. No more Marriotts for me!

  15. Barbara Mor says:

    While protesting, boycotting & totally denouncing these misogynistic & homophobic Brunei laws, we must not forget that the same laws would be enacted here in America if the far right Christian Fundamentalist & theocratic Dominionists etc get their way. Extreme atavistic laws of this kind, in both Islamic & Christian cultures, have the same source: the Old Testament. They were used to justify 4-5 centuries of European Inquisition, & just because the costumes of the Western Inquisitioners & MiddleEastern punishers have changed, & will change, & can always be updated into a ‘modern’ form, the fundamental (underlying: pun intended) worldview remains constant. It’s all about Power, how small elites control large populations via fear, scapegoating & torture–it usually works, historically, & we should never ever assume we are so modern & ‘enlightened’ that it can’t happen here. Study the agendas of the militant Christian rightwing (Sarah Palin is their pinup girl for a reason: she’s BigDaddy’s Good Girl!); one of them, Fuqua, recently ran for a state representative office on a Biblical platform supporting the right of parents to stone their children to death for ‘disobedience’. He lost, this time. Don’t underestimate their madness, they believe they serve ‘the Will of God’ & this is a powerful, if deluded, source of political organizing & fundraising energy. The Sultan of Brunei already owns classically American hotels…his Christian Theocratic counterparts own a lot of major US corporations/institutions also, including a big chunk of the US Congress. Not to mention a few born-again Inquisitors on the US Supreme Court.

  16. mesh15 says:

    This law is not implemented to your country. Its in Brunei, then why worry? Why you guys have to be so busy to make a democracy and all? We! Bruneian people! Welcoming Syaria Law! Then whats your problem? Criminal minded who just have to be afraid with this law unless youre one of them then. No wonder. no one can stop this, It’s Allah’s Law. Have a good day!

  17. Leroy Brown says:

    Can’t the city of Beverly Hills revoke his hotel license?

  18. BRUNEIUNITED says:

    In your countries you practice freedom of speech,
    freedom of press, freedom of religion, etc. It’s in your
    constitution It’s your political system, your national
    identity, your rights, your way of life. In my country, we practice a Malay, Islamic,
    Monarchical system and we’re going to start
    practicing the laws of Islam, Sharia Law . Islam is in
    our constitution, our national identity, our rights, our
    way of life.We may find loopholes in your laws and
    justice system and you may have found ours, but this is our country. Just like you practice your right to be
    gay, etc. for this world you live in now, we practice
    our rights to be Muslims for this world and the
    Hereafter. This is an Islamic country practising
    Islamic law. Why don’t you worry about your kids being gunned
    down in schools, worry about your prisons being
    unable to accommodate convicts, worry about your
    high rate of crimes and DUIs, worry about your high
    suicide and abortion rate, worry about whatever it is
    that you should be worried about THERE. Many religions are against homosexuality, it’s nothing
    new. The moment you hear that Islam and Muslims
    making a stand and trying to reaffirm their faith, you
    judge, you boycott, you say that it’s wrong, it’s stupid,
    it’s barbaric. Again, go back to those worries that you
    should focus on I’ve mentioned earlier. Is it not wrong to legalize deadly weapons, is it not wrong to allow
    unborn babies to be killed, is it not wrong to allow a
    lifestyle that results in AIDS and discontinuation of
    the next generation? Why do you care so much what’s happening here in
    an Islamic nation when you didn’t even bat an eyelid
    about the Syrians, Bosnians, Rohingyas,
    Palestinians,etc. Thousands are being killed there and
    you don’t care, not one is killed here under this Sharia
    Law, and you make a big fuss, even when the citizens here who are directly affected by it, accepts it
    with peace. Punishments may be harsher but it does
    not mean it’s easier to be carried out. There are
    processes to go through before an actual conviction.
    We are fine with it, we are happy.

  19. We need to spread the news far and wide of owners who believe they can get away with this.
    Furthermore, The saltan of Brunei has prostitutes etc. for himself and his sons. So he really should be stoned under his own law.

  20. It gets worse. Go to dorchestercollection.com to view all 9 hotels he owns. They are some of the best and most classic hotels in the world. I was looking forward to taking my 7 year old daughter for tea at The Dorchester when she’s finally old enough- time to find a new venue.
    Yes, Brunei has the autonomy to decide its laws, (or rather its dictator does), but I have have the autonomy to decide where to spend my money. I’d love to see more hotel groups with similar values to mine highlighted so I can intentionally support them.

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