But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way, wrote Clooney.
George Clooney has reportedly called for a boycott of nine hotels because of their link to Brunei, where acts of homosexuality will be punished by stoning the victims to death, reports CNN. In a guest column for Deadline, he calls for the immediate boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air, and six others to protest the imminent legalization of laws that make it open season on the LGBTQ community in Brunei. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone, Clooney wrote.
He added, Brunei isn’t a significant country. Its population is less than 500,000 people, pretty small in relation to most of its neighbors, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia. But Brunei has oil. This year it was ranked as the 5th richest nation by Forbes. Good for them. Of course, they haven’t had an election since 1962 and have adopted the most extreme version of Sharia law so, not so good for them. At the head of it all is the Sultan of Brunei who is one of the richest men in the world. The Big Kahuna. He owns the Brunei Investment Agency and they, in turn, own some pretty spectacular hotels.
A couple of years ago two of those hotels in Los Angeles, The Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel were boycotted by many of us for Brunei’s treatment of the gay community. It was effective to a point. We canceled a big fundraiser for the Motion Picture Retirement Home that we’d hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel for years. Lots of individuals and companies did the same, he continued, in the same column, going in depth about the country.
But like all good intentions when the white heat of outrage moves on to the hundred other reasons to be outraged, the focus dies down and slowly these hotels get back to the business of business. And the Brunei Investment Agency counts on that. They own nine of the most exclusive hotels in the world. Full disclosure: I’ve stayed at many of them, a couple of them recently because I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t know who owned them.
They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let’s be clear, every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery. Clooney does have a point there, doesn't he? We support a business by a nation, we support the nation itself.
Clooney concluded his piece with - Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly, any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.
In May 2014, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah reportedly announced he would be imposing a new penal code based on Sharia, an Islamic legal system which includes strict corporal punishments for those who commit sins. At the time, the government's website quoted the Sultan as saying that his government "does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but that it would suffice if they just respect the nation in the same way that it also respects them."
The new laws were approved by the Sultan and it was quietly announced that capital punishment for homosexual sex would be imposed in April while theft will be punished by amputation under the new laws. "Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei's move to put these cruel penalties into practice," Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei Researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.