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Gay stoning boycott of the Dorchester

Luxury hotel faces backlash over Sultan owner’s ‘medieval’ crackdown

12 April, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Protesters outside the Dorchester Hotel this week

POLITICAL rivals have united against Brunei’s new stoning death penalty for being gay, with a bid to force a liquor licence review at the Dorchester Hotel and 45 Park Lane – the luxury stops for tourists whose ownership is connected to the Sultan of Brunei.

Conservative councillors Timothy Barnes and Jonathan Glanz said the round-the-clock drinks licences held at the hotels did not match up with the Sultan’s laws on alcohol in his kingdom.

They have begun a petition which will be sent to the Brunei High Commission.

In a statement, the two councilors said: “Brunei has introduced legislation making it a crime punishable by flogging or stoning to death to indulge in adultery or gay sex.

However, the two Dorchester Group Hotels have extensive 24-hour licences entitling them to sell alcohol to guests and visitors.

“This would not appear to be in strict compliance with Sharia Law and creates an apparent double standard bordering on hypocrisy whereby the ­Sultan profits from activities that would be illegal in his kingdom.”

They are also calling for a boycott of the hotels while they are “under their current ownership or whilst such legislation exists in Brunei”.

This call has been matched by Labour councillor Pancho Lewis, who also ­sup­ports a booze licence review at the Dorchester.

“It is an absolute disgrace that Brunei has passed these laws,” he said.

“This is the 21st century, not medieval times.

“We need to stand up to this authoritarian, regressive regime, and that’s why I’d urge everyone to boycott the hotel. I’m also calling on Transport for London to rename the bus stop on the south end of Park Lane so it no longer refers to ‘The Dorchester’ – we shouldn’t be advertising the hotel through public transport whilst the Sultan of Brunei refuses to respect fundamental human rights.”

The pressure was building on Sunday when human rights campaigners gathered for a demonstration outside the Dorchester, while the University of Oxford said it was considering revoking a honorary degree given to the Sultan. The Police Federation cancelled a booking to hold its annual bravery awards there, previously due to be hosted by the hotel on July 18.

Internationally, ER and Out Of Sight actor George Clooney and Your Song singer Elton John have publicly said they will not stay in hotels with links to the Sultan.

The Dorchester Collection said in a statement on its website that its values were “far removed from the politics of ownership”.

It added: “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, we never have and we never will. We understand people’s anger and frustration but this is a political and religious issue that we don’t believe should be played out in our hotels and amongst our 3,630 employees.

“We’re deeply saddened by what’s happening right now and the impact it is having on our employ­ees, guests, partners and suppliers in particular. We are aware that many other brands have ownership with similar backgrounds in this increasingly global world.”

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