BEVERLY HILLS—Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th and current Sultan of Brunei, is facing backlash at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which he owns, because of his recent approval of anti-gay policies in his nation, which is officially titled, Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace.
On February 5, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, John Legend, was scheduled to perform at a Grammy pre-party sponsored by Ciroc Vodka and L.A. Confidential Magazine.
In an apparent response to the Sultan’s recently enacted domestic policies, Legend refused, his representative explaining that, “John does not, in any way, wish to further enrich the Sultan while he continues to enforce these brutal laws,” she added, “These policies are heinous and certainly don’t represent John’s values or the spirit of the event.”
Specifically, Bolkiah established Sharia Law in Brunei last year. Sharia Law, a strict body of Islamic law, dictates that there be strict penalties for homosexual acts including beatings, lashes, stoning, lifetime imprisonment, severing of limbs, and the death penalty.
In addition to Legend’s boycott, throngs of supporters gathered outside the hotel the night of February 5, in protest of the Sultan’s intolerant policies, which also include the legal raping of one’s wife if she is over 13.
A representative for the hotel wrote in April 2014, in response to related protests, “While we recognize people’s concerns, we believe this boycott should not be directed to our hotels and dedicated employees.”
The boycott of the hotel is supported by celebrities and organizations such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, Russel Crowe, Sharon Osbourne, Richard Branson, Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks and gay-rights organizations like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, who compared the Sultan to Donald Sterling.
The Jewish Journal reported that by May 2014, “more than $2 million worth of events have been canceled at the Beverly Hills Hotel by dozens of groups.”
L.A. Confidential Magazine released in a statement: “[We are] an avid supporter of equal rights for all people. Our decision to hold our event at the hotel in now way suggests that we support any anti-human-rights policies.”
Representatives from Ciroc Vodka were unavailable to provide a comment regarding their controversial sponsorship of the Grammy pre-party in the embattled hotel.
The Public Relations office for the hotel told Canyon News, “We do not wish to provide a statement on the matter.”