George Clooney Calls for a Boycott of Dorchester Collection Hotels Over Anti-Gay Laws

Mar 29, 2019

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In a guest column for Deadline, George Clooney has called for an immediate boycott of Dorchester Collection hotels over the Sultan of Brunei’s announcement that citizens convicted of having gay sex or committing adultery will be put to death by stoning or lashing. The luxury hotel brand, which runs nine hotels in Europe and the US, is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, which in turn is owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — one of the richest people in the world.

“They’re nice hotels,” Clooney writes. “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.”

When asked for a statement on whether it condones the practice announced by the sultan, the hotel chain sent a vague email that did not address the issue. “Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasizes equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees. Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination,” it said. 

This is not the first time the Dorchester Collection has been subject to boycotts because of the sultan’s harsh anti-gay stance. In 2014, there were boycotts of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air in LA, the Dorchester in London, Le Meurice in Paris and the Principe di Savoia in Milan.

“While I am sensitive to the potential impact that this issue may have on the wonderful staff at Le Meurice, I cannot in all good conscience stay there, nor can Vogue’s editors,” Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Editor in Chief, told the New York Times at the time.

The Evening Standard reported that in the first month of the 2014 boycott, the Beverly Hills Hotel lost $2 million in cancelled reservations and meetings, but it’s hard to say what impact — if any — it had, considering that the sultan was believed to be worth $20 billion at the time.

As Clooney pointed out, Brunei is a small nation of less than 500,000 people, but it’s ranked as the fifth-richest in the world because of its oil reserves.

As of Friday morning, many others, including Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Lee Curtis and British actor Steven Fry, are amplifying Clooney’s call for a boycott. A protest is being planned outside of the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 5.

Featured image of the Beverly Hills Hotel by Samantha Rosen/TPG

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