Starting on 3rd April, Clooney notes “the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism, this stands alone.”
The Beverly Hills Hotel is owned, along with several other luxury properties, by the Brunei Investment Agency, which is headed by the Sultan of Brunei. Brunei is a tiny, oil-rich country that follows Sharia Law and, according to Reuters, recently enacted laws allowing the stoning and whipping of gay people and adulterers. The other hotels owned by the Sultan include The Dorchester London, 45 Park Lane London, Coworth Park UK, Hotel Bel-Air Los Angeles, Le Meurice Paris, Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris, Hotel Eden Rome, and Hotel Principe di Savoia Milan.
Because these hotels are all decidedly in the “luxury” realm (a room at the Beverly Hills Hotel starts at about $595 USD a night, according to their website, and Chanel hosted their pre-Oscar party there this year) this op-ed appears to be a direct appeal to the wealthy, who have access to certain kinds of places that ordinary travellers may not.
“Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels,”Clooney wrote, “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.”
The Beverly Hills Hotel has previously been the subject of boycotts over Brunei’s draconic laws. But the protests lost traction among some supporters (like Kim Kardashian West) over concerns that the efforts were hurting the hotel’s employees, not its owner. Clooney acknowledged this, writing, “the people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties.”
But, he continued, giving money to the hotel also validates the human rights violations of Brunei. Now, he hopes, the boycott will affect the people who do business with Brunei, if not the country itself.
“I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them,” Clooney wrote. “But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”