by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 30, 2014
The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air in California, as well as the Dorchester in London, are being boycotted by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups after it became known that the hotels' owner, the Sultan (and leader) of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, is about to pass draconian laws that would make homosexuality punishable by stoning to death. The three hotels are part of the Dorchester Collection, which encompasses nine luxury properties in London, France, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. Denver-based Gill Action canceled its Political Outgiving 5.0 conference, an event for wealthy LGB donors, which was to be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel May 1-5. "In light of the horrific antigay policy approved by the government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision... to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property. We are seeking a return of all deposits," Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, said in an official statement. Members of the fashion, arts, media and entertainment industries, including Ellen DeGeneres and British actor Stephen Fry, have taken to social media, calling for boycotts of all the Dorchester properties. A spokesperson for the Dorchester Collection issued a statement saying, "We are sensitive to the fact that any such potential withdrawal of business directly impacts our employees, who represent the full diversity of society. We continue to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind." According to Forbes, Bolkiah is one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated worth of $20 billion; he has ruled Brunei since 1967.