The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air are among hotels that LGBT advocates in the entertainment and fashion industries are urging people to boycott because the hotels' parent, Dorchester Collection, is owned by the government of Brunei, which plans to make homosexual sex punishable by death.
Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and writer/actor Stephen Fry both noted Brunei's decision on their Twitter feeds last month, and each urged potential guests to boycott the group's hotels. Los Angeles-based vintage boutique-store owner Cameron Silver and fashion designer Gregory Parkinson also noted Brunei's anti-gay laws and its Dorchester Collection ownership in social media posts.
"I won't be visiting the Hotel Bel-Air or the Beverly Hills Hotel until this is resolved," DeGeneres posted on her Twitter feed on April 22.
"Canceled in the nick of time," Fry tweeted on April 25. "Discovered [the U.K.'s Coworth Park hotel] that I was booked into is part of the Dorchester Collection."
The call for a boycott stemmed from the decision by Brunei's leader, Hassanal Bolkiah, to adopt sharia law, the Islamic moral and religious code, which makes consensual homosexual sex punishable by death by stoning.
According to a report from Reuters, the law will be implemented in phases.
The issue focuses travel-industry attention on Brunei, which is located on the north coast of Borneo and has a population of about 412,000. Ranked by Forbes as the fifth wealthiest nation in gross domestic product per capita because of its oil and natural-gas reserves, Brunei acquired London's Dorchester Hotel in 1985 and the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1987.
In 1996, the country's investment fund formed what was then called the Dorchester Group, whose 10 properties also include Paris' Hotel Plaza Athenee, Milan's Hotel Principe di Savoia and Rome's Hotel Eden.
"Dorchester Collection continues to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and does not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind," Dorchester spokeswoman Julia Record said in a statement.
Still, calls for a boycott have already made an impact, especially in Southern California, where the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air have long been frequented by members of the entertainment industry. The Los Angeles Times reported that a peaceful protest of about two dozen people took place in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel on April 26.
The Gill Action Fund, a gay-rights group, said last month that it canceled a conference scheduled for early May at the Beverly Hills Hotel, citing what its executive director, Kirk Fordham, called "horrific anti-gay policy approved by the government of Brunei."
Even so, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) stopped short of calling for a boycott. The IGLTA's list of hotel partners includes Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, Melia Hotels International and MGM Resorts International but not the Dorchester Collection.
"We don't endorse boycotts but view tourism as a bridge to open dialogue and create change," said IGLTA spokeswoman LoAnn Halden.