The Los Angeles City Council joined a call to boycott the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, both owned by the government of Brunei, due to anti-gay measures in the tiny kingdom making homosexual sex and adultery punishable by death.
A resolution outlining a ban and denouncing the country's laws was introduced by City Councilman Paul Koretz and approved on a 12-0 vote.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah recently announced that, effective April 3, anyone charged with adultery or homosexuality will be stoned to death in accordance with sharia law.
The resolution, which needs to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to become official, says the city will refrain from conducting business at the two hotels, including participating in any event or other business that requires city resources; and officially discourages all city employees and residents from staying at or attending any functions at either of the hotels unless and until the government of Brunei repeals "these cruel and inhumane laws."
"This is as barbaric as anything that has happened in hundreds of years," Koretz said at a City Hall news conference last week. "We can't abide by it and we have some logical ways to show it by boycotting hotels owned by the government of Brunei somewhat indirectly and sending them a message."
He was joined by City Controller Ron Galperin, who said: "Do not patronize these hotels. Do not stay in these hotels. And do not step foot in these hotels as long as they are owned by such a criminal enterprise."
Actor George Clooney is at the forefront of the push to boycott the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air and seven properties in Europe owned by the government-owned Brunei Investment Agency. Bolkiah holds supreme power in the oil-rich nation.
"They're nice hotels," Clooney wrote recently in a column for Deadline. "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."
A statement issued recently by the sultan's office said:
'Brunei is a sovereign Islamic and fully independent country and, like all other independent countries, enforces its own rule of laws. Brunei Darussalam has always been practicing a dual legal system, one that is based on the Shariah Law and the other on Common Law.'
The statement added that "both systems will continue to run in parallel to maintain peace and order and preserve religion, life, family and individuals regardless of gender, nationality, race and faith," and said the purpose of sharia law is "criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam" but "also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race."
CNS contributed to this story.