Protesters Try to Keep Up Pressure in Beverly Hills Hotel Boycott

Beverly Hills Hotel protest Sultan of
David McNew/Getty Images

About 40 protesters demonstrated across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday evening, in an effort to keep up pressure on the Sultan of Brunei and his implementation of Sharia law.

“Whether it is one of us or 100,000 of us, it is important for any woman or LGBT person to know that if their lives are threatened, there is someone in the world who will stand up for them,” said Billy Pollina, a writer-producer who helped organize the rally.

The Sultan plans to implement punishments for sodomy and adultery that include stoning, among other harsh sentences that have drawn condemnation from human rights, LGBT and women’s rights organizations. The Dorchester Collection, which owns the hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air, is controlled by the Sultan’s Brunei Investment Agency.

Although the boycott has drawn widespread support in the entertainment community, a handful of Hollywood figures have questioned whether the boycott is misguided and ultimately will harm the hotel’s employees. This week, Kim Kardashian wrote a blog post that questioned the viability of the protest.

But demonstrators pushed back on that notion, insisting that the boycott is working.

“Miss Kardashian needs to know that in Brunei she would have been flogged for having a baby out of wedlock,” Pollina said. He added, “For those who say the boycott isn’t working I would say the entire world is talking about this, including the UN.”

The boycott started when the Gill Action Fund, which supports LGBT causes, announced on April 17 that it was pulling out of a planned conference at the hotel in protest.

The boycott gained momentum on May 5, when the Motion Picture & Television Fund pulled its annual Night Before party at the hotel, and Jay Leno and other entertainment and human rights activists appeared at a rally across the street from the hotel to announce that they, too, were shunning the Dorchester properties.

Friday’s demonstration drew less of a turnout than the May 5 event, but protesters still made noise as they brandished signs saying “Stop the Sultan” and “It’s Not Sheik to Hate.” Representatives from the Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles LGBT Center were among those who spoke, in addition to Pollina and another organizer, James Duke Mason.

By many accounts, the boycott has had a significant impact on the hotel’s business. The hotel has countered by calling attention to its employees, who they say are ultimately hurt by the action even though Dorchester has said that their jobs would be secure and wages maintained.

That has resonated with some industry figures who have publicly announced that they are not supporting the boycott while condemning the Sultan. Among those who have done so are Rose McGowan and Russell Crowe, in addition to Kardashian.

“I think that they are misguided,” said Mason, who also helped organize the rally and is the grandson of actor James Mason. “They are essentially saying, ‘Let’s do nothing. Stay silent in the face of evil.”

Mason, 22, said his family had been going to the hotel for 70 years, and has gotten to know many of its employees. But he said the Sultan was using the employees as “political tools.”

He said that they felt the need to stage another demonstration to “keep up the fight, keep up the pressure.”

The demonstrators stressed that the boycott is not aimed at the employees, but at the Sultan’s policies. They vowed to continue their protest until the Sultan changed the country’s laws or divested ownership from the hotel.


Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 15

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. @rick why they will post???

  2. Rick James Brown says:

    We know all the ANTI-boycott posts here are written by BH Hotel management !!

  3. Rick James Brown says:

    Again…NO ONE on the staff is being harmed by the protest. The CEO of the hotel has said numerous times that ALL the employees are being given their FULL, pre-boycott, salary, tips and benefits.

  4. Andy says:

    As a gay man I say the boycott has been misguided from the start. The hotel is run independently and has been a good friend of the gay community. Plus, lots of us work there! The Beverly Hills Hotel recognized same-sex partnerships before gay marriage was legalized by recognizing and offering insurance to the same-sex partners of workers. It has donated facilities and money to our cause. It advertises openly that it welcomes same-sex wedding celebrations.

    But, you say, it’s owned by a country with Sharia Law. The United Arab Emerates, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and many other countries with dubious human rights records, are heavily invested in the West, in hotels and movies, in Apple and Twitter, in Citigroup, Four Seasons and Fairmont hotels, Time Warner and Valentino to name a very few. In fact, Qatar Investment Authority (the sovereign wealth fund of the Sharia nation of Qatar) is the lead investor of Miramax Films.

    And I wonder, do Jay Leno or Ellen sleep on Egyptian cotton sheets?

  5. Brie says:

    Educate yourself further Hollywood followers: The Movie Promised Land. Matt Damon’s anti-fracking diatribe was funded by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. As Lachlan Markey of Heritage Foundation writes, “Promised Land was also produced ‘in association’ with Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media…The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.”
    The UAE currently operates, at least titularly, under sharia law, meaning that homosexuality is penalized with death under law, and at the very least, the government forces suspected homosexuals into psychological treatment. Sodomy receives imprisonment of 14 years. In 2005, the Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Auqaf said, “There will be no room for homosexual and queer acts in the UAE. Our society does not accept queer behavior, either in word or in action.” In practice, gays are typically deported.
    Warner Brothers, Universal, and Paramount. Abu Dhabi is one of the United Arab Emirates. In 2007, Warner Brothers signed a “multibillion-dollar agreement” with Abu Dhabi investors to build hotels, a theme park, and movie theaters. A half-billion film fund and another half-billion video game fund was created. One of its movies was the Robert Rodriguez kiddie film Shorts (2009). Other companies including Universal and Paramount are also building in conjunction with Abu Dhabi.
    The Abu Dhabi Film Festival and The Dubai Film Festival. Stars like Uma Thurman and Adrian Brody have attended the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. And the Dubai Film Festival – Dubai is a member of the UAE as well — has attracted celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Oliver Stone, Gerard Butler, Salma Hayek, Richard Gere, Ben Affleck, Brad Bird, and others.
    Al Jazeera America. Al Gore had no problem taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the government of Qatar to sell his Current TV to Al Jazeera America. Qatar is ruled by a combination of civil and sharia law. Sodomy is punishable by between one and three years in prison. Qatar is now cooperating with the Gulf Cooperative Countries to apply an anti-gay test to those who wish to immigrate to the country.
    Bank of America. Qatar currently holds a $1 billion stake in Bank of America.
    Major Universities Including Harvard, Georgetown, Columbia, University of Arkansas and Berkeley. All these major universities have taken serious cash from the Saudi government. In 2005, Prince Alwaleed bin Tala Alsaud handed $20 million to Harvard and another $20 million to Georgetown. He stated, “Bridging the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance.” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia stated, “The gift will deepen Georgetown’s ability to advance education in the fields of Islamic civilization and Muslim-Christian understanding, and strengthen its presence as a world leader in facilitating cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.” Saudi Arabia punishes homosexuality with penalties ranging from death to lashings, from chemical castration to prison sentences.
    The Four Seasons Hotels. The Four Seasons Resort and Hotels Management company is co-owned by Prince Alwaleed and Bill Gates. They manage the Four Seasons hotels, which are owned by others. If Hollywood is also interested in secondary boycotts, perhaps they would consider boycotting Gates.
    Fairmont Hotels. Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding owns a 35% chunk of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
    Using market power to undercut the assets of sharia law countries is unquestionably a worthwhile cause. But Hollywood’s hypocrisy is evident when they take sharia law cash and attend their glitzy events all over the world.

  6. Brie says:

    Brie Anderson when you are a billionaire worth $20B, you own things for prestige not profit. You can’t even fathom that so you don’t understand All of our hollywood hypocrites know about that. Take a read and see if any of this involves you: Brie Anderson A $20B person does not go bankrupt with 10 hotels. They are owned for prestige, not profit. Please take a read: Brie Anderson there is no way around it…everyone in the world uses products and/or services from countries that obey different forms of Sharia Law. Read to understand some of the companies…very interesting. The sultan owns his hotels for prestige, not profit. In fact the Four Seasons Hotels are owned by the Al Waleed, a Prince of Saudi Arabia! The hotels are less than 1% of the sultans wealth. here are some more facts that i would like for hollywood and other protestors to understand: 1.) The UAE has Sharia Law and owns US$7Billion in Citigroup. Are we boycotting them to send a message to the United Arab Emirates? If not, does that mean we approve Sharia Law there? 2.) 750 US companies do business in the UAE-read about it 3.) USA exports $14Billion a year to the UAE supporting their economy and ours 4.) Walmart does business in Saudi Arabia, another Sharia Law country 5.) Beverly Hills has invested it’s city employees, including teachers, in Iranian companies-you must research this. fascinating. 6.) Cheesecake factory started in Beverly hills. They are opening 24 restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon but Americans aren’t protesting cheesecake. 7.) How about McDonalds doing business in China with 400 stores 8.) Egyptian cotton on every celebrity’s bed from Egypt, a non human rights supportive country 9.) Kuwait-al shaya group—-brands currently managed and operated by the company include Mothercare, H&M, American Eagle Outfitters, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, Payless ShoeSource, Topshop, Starbucks, Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory, Pinkberry, P. F. Chang’s, Le Pain Quotidien, The Body Shop, Make-up Art Cosmetics (MAC), Victoria’s Secret, Boots, Vision Express, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Office Depot and KidZania Kuwait. Did you know that? 10.) Samsung, the phone that Ellen used to take a selfie at the Oscars is opening a factory in Egypt but she does not care 11.) Warner Brothers just made a deal with the UAE to shoot movies and sell them there 12.) Valentino which many people wear is now owned exclusively by Qatar 13.) Saudi Prince Alwaleed owns $300 million in Twitter-the same app everyone is using to complain about these hotels 14.) Qatar sovereign wealth fund had 20% investment in Porsche, Audi ands Bentley-cars owned by most celebrities and the affluent 15.) Prince Alwaleed of Saudi is 3rd largest holder in news corp; 2nd behind Rupert Murdoch. News corp has the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Vogue. A second company which is part of News Corp has 21st Century Fox, oversees movies and TV programming, including the Fox News Channel. Before you believe a celebrity for making a huge scene, do your research first. These hypocrite celebrities and affluent people are in affect protesting American workers which is terrible. 79 countries in the world with Sharia-nothing will change it as it is political and religious-2 of the most powerful powers around.

  7. Jason says:

    Only 40 people? Ok. Well there is a lot going on in Uganda right now, perhaps they should focus on something that matters now.

  8. Jace says:

    The Sultan has more money than most of us can dream of. You want to force his hand? Cut off trade with Brunei. Boycotting a hotel will not do anything.

  9. Rick James Brown says:

    NO ONE on the staff is being harmed by the protest. The CEO of the hotel has said numerous times that ALL the employees are being given their FULL, pre-boycott, salary, tips and benefits. So how exactly is the staff being harmed under those circumstances ??

  10. GregSamsa says:

    Boohoo poor hotel staff while this creep the Sultan wants to stone people to death for being gay. Priorities? Of course lazy commentators on here prefer people do nothing just like themselves, big surprise. I say run that Sultan out of town the sooner the better, good job protesters.

  11. chris says:

    When is the boycott going to start against Richard Branson who owns a hotel in Morocco where homosexuals can be prosecuted. At least the LGBT community is safe at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

  12. Christopher Riordan says:

    You don’t really expect Ms Kartrashian to have much knowledge about anything, other than what she displays on home movies, do you?

  13. Steven says:

    While I appreciate the sentiment behind rally, I agree with everyone else; trying to disrupt business at a hotel that employs hundreds of Americans is wrong. If the protestors really felt strongly about it, they would be pressuring congress to stop doing business with ALL of the countries that have this law. To go after an American hotel as famous as the Beverly Hills Hotel is only a cheap way to get yourself some press and does nothing for the LGBT community abroad.

  14. Sue says:

    How angry I am that innocent employees of a British company are being impacted by naive protesters who will make absolutely no difference to the people of Brunei. I have not heard a word about the Qatar family or Saudi Royal family who have consistently implemented these laws. How many actors holiday in Dubai?? All that is happening is justifying why these laws are imposed by these people and in turn causing real suffering and heartache to innocent hotel staff.
    Be ashamed of your actions as all you have done is justify what Blair and Bush have done.

More Biz News from Variety