Celebrities boycott Beverley Hills Hotel
Hollywood celebrities have boycotted one of its most famous hotels because of harsh Islamic penal codes introduced by the Brunei government.
The Sultan of Brunei, who owns the Beverly Hills Hotel as well as the world-famous luxury Dorchester hotels chain, announced the first phase of the new penalties at the beginning of May.
Brunei's leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, said the initial phase of the new penal code introduces fines or prison terms for offences including indecent behaviour, failure to attend Friday prayers and pregnancies out-of-wedlock.
The second phase which is due to start later this year will cover crimes such as theft and robbery and will involve more stringent penalties such as amputations and flogging.
The most severe punishments, such as death by stoning for offences including sodomy and adultery, will be introduced late next year and will eventually include death by stoning for homosexuality and adultery.
Comedians Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres from the USA are among the celebrities supporting the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
This week Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne and Richard Branson said they are boycotting the luxury Dorchester Hotel chain over the owner's ties to the introduction of Sharia law in the Sultanate of Brunei.
The mayor of Beverly Hills, Lili Bosse, had urged the city council to adopt a resolution condemning Brunei's new laws and force the country to sell the hotel and others it owns through the Dorchester Collection chain.
Several organisations have cancelled events at the hotel, long a gathering place for Hollywood celebrities.
But Christopher Cowdray, the chief executive of the Dorchester Collection chain, said those protesting have ignored local hotels owned by countries with poor human rights records.
"There are other hotel companies in this city that are owned by Saudi Arabia... you know, your shirt probably comes from a country which has human rights issues," Mr Cowdray said, adding a boycott would hurt local employees the most.