Celebrities love a good cause, but rarely do they have to sacrifice more than a little time and maybe write a check to support the latest cause. This time, the cause is hitting a little close to home and they are being forced to choose to jump on the boycott bandwagon against the Beverly Hills Hotel or keep their mouths shut and enjoy the perks of the luxurious digs. The hotel has been a haven for celebrities since 1912, but now a line has been drawn in the sand. Those that visit the hotel and give them money are being accused of supporting the Sultan of Brunei.
The Sultan has recently supported the enforcement Sharia law, which carries a stiff sentence for homosexuality and adultery. Those found guilty can face extreme punishments including being stoned to death. Hollywood tends to be very vocal about rights for every person no matter if they like boys or girls. The law doesn’t apply to those living in the United States, but the Sultan has a long reach and a really big bank account. He owns the Beverly Hills Hotel. Anybody who rents a room or drinks in the bar is lining the man’s pockets and therein lies the problem.
Jay Leno is one of the first celebrities to support the boycott and lead a group of picketers in front of the hotel. He insists the demonstration isn’t a protest, but simply a way to make people aware of the situation. The law was enforced back in April and although the protests have just started this week, there has been a silent demonstration happening for weeks.
The Feminist Majority Foundation pulled up stakes and moved their annual Global Women’s Rights Awards to the Hammer Museum. It just so happens Jay Leno and his wife Mavis co-chair the organization. Elisa Lees Munoz of the International Women’s Media Foundation announced they are also pulling their Courage in Journalism Awards from the Beverly Hills Hotel. Munoz made it perfectly clear in a statement about the move saying the foundation could “no longer hold an event at a venue whose owner stands for the violation of the very human rights we fight for.”
This is just the beginning and there are likely more repercussions for the hotel coming. Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Branson have already made it clear they won’t be visiting any of the hotels owned and operated by the Dorchester Collection. The CEO of the company is fighting back and says Hollywood is getting mad at the wrong people and their boycott is only going to hurt the good people who work in the hotels. He adds, “It's not their fight.” He thinks they should take it up with the politicians in D.C. and basically butt out of Brunei’s business. Like that is going to happen.
The mayor of Beverly Hills is asking the sultan to give up his interest before there is serious economic damage done. Follow the money trail. If celebs don’t patronize the hotel, the hotel loses money and pays less tax and so on. It is the perfect example of a big crap ball rolling down the hill. It would be great if the celebrities can actually make a difference, but it is more than likely it will all be forgotten soon enough and the horrible law in Brunei will be upheld.