OutGiving, an LGBT rights group that hosts an annual conference for major donors, will be finding a new venue for this year’s event. Scheduled for the Beverly Hills Hotel, organizers reconsidered their choice after the sultan of Brunei — the hotel's owner — announced that he will legislate death by stoning for gay people.
The Beverly Hills Hotel doesn’t seem like quite the place for the man who dictated a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic Sharia law in his home country. Yet Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah is the owner of the iconic hotel.
Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, told the Washington Blade that the group would choose a new venue for the event after the sultan’s announcement.
“In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property,” Fordham said. “We are seeking a return of all deposits.“
Set to go into effect April 22, the sultan shocked the international community by mandating the death penalty for a wide variety of offences, including adultery, extramarital relations, sodomy, robbery, and defaming the Prophet Muhammad, per Islamic Sharia law.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has condemned the laws.
"Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN commissioner for human rights.
The Beverly Hills Hotel has raised eyebrows in the gay community before, which was aware of its connections to Brunei and his homophobic policies, according to the Washington Blade.
Themed “Winning the Heartland,” this year’s conference is set to take place from May 1-4. With tickets running $1,750 per person, the conference is for high-rollers only: people who give more than $25,000 a year to LGBT causes. The event is kept strictly under wraps from the media.
Leslie Lefkowitz, a spokesperson for the Beverly Hills Hotel, only commented that OutGiving had every right to cancel.
“In the hotel industry, it is not uncommon for organizations to change aspects of their corporate programs, including the scope, date and/or venues of planned events,” Lefkowitz told the Washington Blade. “Anytime a valued business partner decides to alter their plans, we respect their right to do so and look forward to the next opportunity to be of service to them.”
Others are calling for a boycott of several more Los Angeles-area hotels owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government.