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Beverly Hills City Council Condemns Brunei Penal Code

The Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a resolution urging Brunei to divest its ownership of the Beverly Hills Hotel and condemning the Southeast Asian nation's brutal new "kill-a-gay" and "flog-a-woman" penal code.

"The City of Beverly Hills strongly condemns the government of Brunei as well as other governments which engage in similar policies for adopting laws that impose extreme and inhumane penalties including execution by stoning, flogging and severing of limbs," the resolution says. "The City of Beverly Hills urges the government of Brunei to divest itself of the Beverly Hills Hotel and any other properties it may own in Beverly Hills."

The Brunei Investment Agency owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Bel-Air Hotel, and other Dorchester Collection Properties. The Agency is managed by the Brunei Ministry of Finance, which is controlled by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.

"We are pleased that the Beverly Hills City Council is taking action," said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. "This new Taliban-like penal code is a clear violation of international law and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights."

The new penal code is set to be implemented in three phases over three years. The first phase, which began on May 1, will include fines and prison sentences. The second phase includes corporal punishment such as amputations and flogging women who have abortions. The stoning to death of gay men and lesbians is slated for the third phase.

According to news reports, the U.S. State Department indicated on Tuesday that the ambassador to Brunei had discussed concerns about the law with the Brunei government. The Feminist Majority Foundation is calling on the United Nations to condemn the government of Brunei and to explore additional options if the Sultan fails to rescind these inhumane laws. "'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 Mavis Leno, Feminist Majority Foundation board member.

In protest of the new laws, the Feminist Majority Foundation pulled its annual Global Women's Rights Awards from the Beverly Hills Hotel and held a rally on Monday in the park across from the venue. Several celebrities, including actor and activist Frances Fisher and comedian Jay Leno, who co-chairs the Global Women's Rights Awards with Mavis Leno, joined a coalition of women's rights and LGBT groups at the rally, calling on the Sultan of Brunei to immediately rescind the penal code.

FMF has launched a massive petition drive and social media campaign, using the hashtag #StopTheSultan, calling on the government of Brunei to rescind the new code and asking the United Nations to take action if these laws go into effect as planned.

TAKE ACTION: Sign FMF's petition to stop the Brunei's new Taliban-like penal code and urge the United Nations to condemn the government of Brunei and explore all options, including sanctions, against Brunei if the government does not rescind these horrific laws.

Media Resources: Reuters 5/7/14; Los Angeles Times 5/6/14; Feminist Newswire 5/1/14, 5/5/14, 5/6/14

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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