The Beverly Hills Hotel has been the subject of a boycott due to the oppressive policies of its owner, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah. Last week, actor George Clooney called for a boycott of the hotel in response to the Sultan's implementation of a strict form of Islamic law, which includes the death penalty for those who engage in same-sex sexual relations. The City of Los Angeles has officially joined the boycott, refusing to conduct business at the hotel and discouraging all City employees and residents from staying or attending any functions there. The Sultan's decision to impose Sharia law has resulted in a significant financial loss for him and his Brunei Investment Agency, Brunei's sovereign wealth fund.
The local hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 11, has been trying to unionize the hotel since it was reopened and acquired by the Sultan in the early 1990s. In an effort to break the stalemate, George Clooney admitted that he had not done his homework and had stayed at many of the hotels owned by Brunei. He sent a letter to the Sultan and Ambassador of Brunei to the United States, offering to meet with them to seek a solution. In response, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced that he would extend a moratorium on capital punishment and ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture.
Until Brunei's interpretation of Sharia law is completely repealed or hotels are sold, the Dorchester Hotels boycott continues. The boycott is an important reminder that we must all be aware of how our actions can have an impact on those who are oppressed and marginalized.