George Clooney is staying firm on his call for a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei in the wake of Brunei’s cruel new anti-gay laws, set to come into effect on April 3.
In a guest column for Deadline last week, Clooney wrotes that “the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay” next week. At the head of the country of Brunei is Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the richest men in the world, who also owns the Brunei Investment Agency, which, in turn, owns and operates some of the world’s most luxurious hotels under the Dorchester Collection of properties.
After receiving a flurry of response and even some pushback to his original column, Clooney has now published a second column at Deadline, aiming to clarify his stance on the issue.
“The first question everyone asks is if a boycott has any effect on the intended target or does it just hurt the people who work at the hotels?” Clooney says. “I share those concerns, but to equate their situation with the fact that this week the 5th richest country in the world would take a young woman who is found to be gay, bury her up to her neck and have 25 men throw stones at her head until she is dead seems unfathomable.
He adds, “This exact argument was used during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. And yes a lot of hard working, presumably innocent bus drivers were hurt… but no one would argue that the boycott was for the far greater good.”
Clooney also addresses concerns over a boycott campaign seemingly aimed at winning over rich celebrities.
“These are very expensive hotels, but the bulk of their business isn’t individuals but companies,” the actor explains. “I’ve been to these hotels when I was doing press events set up by the studios. I don’t know any companies that want to put money in the pocket of a murderer once they know.”
He adds, “You can’t make the bad guys be good, but you can stop the good guys from being complicit.
Two of the hotels owned by the Sultan’s company are The Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel. Two years ago, celebs boycotted the hotel over the treatment of gays in Brunei.
“But like all good intentions when the white heat of outrage moves on to the hundred other reasons to be outraged, the focus dies down and slowly these hotels get back to the business of business,” Clooney wrote in his original column. “And the Brunei Investment Agency counts on that. They own nine of the most exclusive hotels in the world.”
The Oscar winner admitted that he has stayed at the company’s properties in the past.
“Full disclosure: I’ve stayed at many of them, a couple of them recently, because I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t know who owned them,” he said, adding that staff who run these properties are kind and courteous and have no part in ownership of the hotels.
“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,” Clooney continued.
“But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?” he asked. “But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”
Clooney listed the nine hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei’s company, telling readers, “It’s up to each of us what we want to do.”
The nine hotels Clooney and other LGBTQ activists are calling for people to boycott:
The Dorchester, London
45 Park Lane, London
Coworth Park, UK
The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
Le Meurice, Paris
Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
Hotel Eden, Rome
Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan
Clooney is the latest celeb to speak out about boycotting the luxury hotels. He joins Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kate Hudson, Juliette Lewis, Courtney Love, “Queer Eye” star Tan France, Lady Gaga, Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart, Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Alfonso Cuaron in speaking out against the Sultan of Brunei.
Since Clooney’s column, more stars have joined the call to boycott including Belinda Carlisle, Rufus Wainwright, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lance Bass, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Billie Jean King and more.