Anti-LGBTQ laws send #boycotthotels to trending page

Abby Bower, Co-Managing Editor

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The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, and Le Meurice, in Paris, are among nine of the most elite, expensive, and now controversial, 5-star hotels around the world.

These hotels, known as The Dorchester Collection, provide temporary homes to CEOs, millionaires, and A-list celebs alike, as they travel around the world. According to the official website for The Dorchester Collection, these hotels have rooms that can cost anywhere from $660 to well over $6,000 a night (USD).

The nation of Brunei, located in Southeast Asia, is a monarchy with a population around 500,000, and this nation owns all nine of these hotels under the Brunei Investment Agency. According to NBC.com, this agency was established in 1983 and is government-owned. Every penny earned at any of those hotels goes right back to Brunei, which helped make it Forbes fifth richest nation this year.

Around two-thirds of the Brunei population is Muslim which, according to CNN.com, is most likely the reason the country has adopted an extremist Islamic legal system called Sharia Law, known for its strict capitalist punishment. In 2014, the same year Sharia Law was put into place, the country introduced a new disciplinary code that listed any men found guilty of having homosexual intercourse would be stoned to death. That means what it sounds like — a group of people throw stones at the accused criminal until they die of blunt-force trauma.

The same disciplinary code listed the same punishment for adultery, lists whipping as the punishment for women found guilty of having homosexual intercourse, and lists amputation as a punishment for stealing, and applies to children and even tourists visiting the country. Even though these new laws were introduced in 2014, they were put into place as recently as April 3, 2019. It seems like for most of that five-year period, the rest of the world didn’t blink an eye.

There were protests a few years ago towards two of the nine hotels, both located in the United States, because of the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. But according to CNN.com, those protests only lasted a few months and then the controversy died down. Everyone seemingly forgot.

On March 28 actor George Clooney got word of this new law and took advantage of his platform by writing a piece for the opinion column of Deadline. His story was built around a call to boycott The Dorchester Collection, and soon made national headlines. In his article, he wrote that he too was guilty of staying at these hotels, even recently. But he also took part in the 2014 protests by canceling a conference that was usually held at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Clooney returned to stay at the hotels after the outrage died down. Clooney acknowledged, that through his stays there, he could see why they are regarded as some of the best hotels in the world, from the helpful staff to the top-notch rooms and services, just about everything went above and beyond, however that didn’t make a difference on his stance.

“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,” said Clooney to Deadline.com.

After Clooney took a stand for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, it wasn’t long until many well-known celebrities stood alongside him, with people like Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen Pompeo and Elton John posting to social media with the hashtag #boycotthotels. With that, John brought up an interesting point that he knows many of the employees at Dorchester hotels to be gay. This only shines a light on the fact that not enough people are aware of what’s going on.

On May 6, according to NPR.org, Brunei released a statement saying that, due to the large wave of backlash they faced, they would be temporarily suspending the law regarding men having homosexual intercourse. While this is an unbelievable victory, the suspension only applies to one of the strict laws. Brunei made no comment on the laws against adultery and women found guilty of having homosexual intercourse. Because of the many unfair laws that will still be in place, most of the people who were vocal about this before are still urging for the boycott of the Dorchester Collection.

There are many fans of celebrities like DeGeneres and Pompeo that have come out to say they no longer think the boycott is necessary. It is easy to think like that because the main cause of the protest has been resolved, but even in Brunei’s statement, they said that the resolution was just temporary, and there are many things that weren’t actually resolved. Even though Clooney’s article was written before the recent changes, one quote still remains prevalent: “Are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations?”

Well, are we? In a situation like this, where seemingly-basic human rights are being denied in such outdated ways, doing something is always going to be better than doing nothing, even if it feels like we’ve already made enough of a difference. Citizens of the United States are privileged enough to love who they want to love without any form of corporal or capital punishment. To put aside the fact that others aren’t as fortunate is a form of willful ignorance, especially when it can be so simple to take a stand. The recent halt on the new law has proven that the protests are affecting Brunei, and if everyone keeps protesting, we can affect them even more. No one should let this be swept under the rug, especially when it was proven that what we’re doing is working. Anyone can take a simple step towards equality for everyone all across the globe. Even the people who can’t afford to go to, or stay at, one of these hotels, can do their part by talking about the issue and keeping the fire burning, so that the wealthy people who can afford The Dorchester Collection have enough knowledge to #boycotthotels.

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