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Renewed Boycott Targets Ritzy Beverly Hills Hotel Over Anti-Gay Owner

The Sultan of Brunei-owned properties are coming under fire

The Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1980s
flickr/Alan Light
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Another ongoing boycott has hit the Hotel Bel-Air and Beverly Hills Hotel properties, two of Los Angeles’s most storied Westside hotel and restaurant destinations. At issue is the overarching Dorchester Collection company which owns both hotels, and is backed by the anti-gay government of the sultan of Brunei, east of Malaysia. Just this week, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended new laws that (among other things) would allow LGBTQ people to be stoned to death in his country for practicing gay sex. Homosexuality has already been illegal in the country for years.

The call for consumers to spend their money elsewhere is coming from all sides this time, including actor George Clooney and Los Angeles city officials themselves, including Councilman Paul Koretz. Per the LA Times, Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin is outraged at the thought of supporting the Sultan of Brunei through his properties:

“This is sickening and it’s unacceptable,” Galperin told reporters at the news conference. “When the gravity of this decree set in, it hit me hard, not just because I’m a member of the LGBT community. … What kind of world do we live in where a country wants to put someone to death, wants to stone them just for being gay?”

This is far from the first time the country of Brunei and its powerful and wealthy leader have come under scrutiny for its religious and political beliefs. Similar, and equally far-reaching, boycotts have previously hit Dorchester Collection properties in Los Angeles back in 2014, and again in 2016, as the Brunei government has continued to push its anti-LGBTQ agenda.

Reached for comment, reps for the Dorchester Collection sent along the same statement that is currently on their website, including the following:

Inclusion, diversity and equality are the foundation of Dorchester Collection. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, we never have and we never will. We understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played out in our hotels and amongst our 3,630 employees. We’re deeply saddened by what’s happening right now and the impact it is having on our employees, guests, partners and suppliers in particular. Our values are far removed from the politics of ownership.

As for what an ongoing boycott may look like, that remains to be seen. Some have implored the Sultan to sell his hotel properties, to no avail. As the New York Times puts it:

But it is unclear what impact the boycott will have. Although the earlier protests resulted in a flood of cancellations, they did not move the Sultan to sell. In time, the issue faded and celebrities and their entourages returned.