Connect with us

Local

Brunei’s LGBTQ death penalty draws revived boycott of hotel properties worldwide

Published

on

Sultan of Brunei (Screenshot from Al Jazeera TV News Network)

Oscar & Golden Globe winning actor George Clooney, in an opinion piece he wrote for entertainment business media outlet DEADLINE-Hollywood, is calling for a fresh boycott of nine hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, which include The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills and the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. This call for a boycott coming after the announcement earlier this past week that the government of Brunei, which is headed by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, will impose the death penalty on persons convicted of having ‘homosexual sex,’ starting Wednesday April 3, 2019.

Clooney wrote:“On this particular April 3rd (2019) the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.”

The Sultan, who has sole proprietorship of the Brunei Investment Agency, (BIA) which owns the nine luxury hotel Dorchester Collection, acquired those two Los Angeles metroplex properties in 1992.

In October of 2013, he had announced that he was implementing the Islamic penal code called Sharia for his country. Sharia calls for, among other punishments, public flogging of women who have abortions, amputation of limbs for thieves. and death by stoning for persons convicted of having ‘homosexual sex.’ By May of 2014 there were boycotts of Dorchester Collection properties which included The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air, after Brunei began the introduction of a Sharia Criminal Code, to run in parallel with the Common Law.

This past December 29, 2018 the introduction of the ‘final phase’ was announced culminating with the death by stoning penalty for homosexual sex by April 3rd, 2019.

Those 2014 boycotts were led by LGBTQ activists and celebrities like Cleve Jones, James Duke Mason, Jay Leno, Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and Clooney. However, as The Hollywood Reporter noted in a February 27, 2015 piece, “Maybe the siren call of those McCarthy Salads at The Polo Lounge is just too tempting. Less than a year after Hollywood loudly boycotted The Beverly Hills Hotel after its owner, the sultan of Brunei, implemented the anti-gay Sharia law in his country, some industryites are creeping back. Making it safe: visitors who either are out or maintain close ties to the LGBT community.

Among them are producer Megan Ellison (she sat at the downstairs coffee shop Jan. 28), Miley Cyrus (she stopped by with boyfriend Patrick Schwarzenegger on Jan. 10) and Dita Von Teese (who Instagrammed a shot of herself there Feb. 1).”

Also at play was whether or not the boycott would be effective, or as Vanity Fair columnist Mark Seal wrote in a July 16, 2014 column, “By late May, the hotel had lost $2 million in cancellations, and the damage had radiated to the sultan’s other Dorchester Collection hotels, including the Dorchester, in London, and Le Meurice, in Paris […] Ironically, the boycott has victimized the very people that the union has been trying to protect: the hotel’s 650 employees.”

In his piece today however, Clooney argued, “They’re nice hotels. 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.

Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. 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?

I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Brunei Researcher at Amnesty International told the Los Angeles Blade in an emailed statement,

“Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments, and revise its Penal Code in compliance with its human rights obligations. The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.”  

A State Department spokesperson on Friday said the U.S. “is concerned with Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code. Some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations, including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“We have encouraged Brunei to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 2015, and to sign, ratify, and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” added the spokesperson in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade.

STATEMENT FROM ELTON JOHN (who previously has led boycotts against Brunei owned properties): “I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect – as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world.

Discrimination on the basis of sexuality is plain wrong and has no place in any society. That’s why I commend my friend, George Clooney, for taking a stand and calling out the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry now being enshrined in law in the nation of Brunei, a place where gay people are brutalized or worse. As George has said, the Sultan of Brunei owns many luxury hotels around the world – hotels which David and I have found it impossible to visit since the Sultan’s plan to push for shar’ia law in Brunei became public.  Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of these properties, many of whom we know to be gay.

We recognise that sovereign countries will make decisions for their own citizens.  But we feel we must send a message, however we can, that such treatment is unacceptable. We must never underestimate the power of our voices – and our actions – to spark the change we need to see.”

Reporting by DEADLINE-Hollywood, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Ventura County

Newsom appoints Vianey Lopez to Ventura County Board

Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights

Published

on

Vianey Lopez (center) with the late Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez (L) (Photo Credit: Vianey Lopez/Facebook)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he has appointed City of Oxnard Councilmember Vianey Lopez to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to the seat left vacant by the sudden death of the beloved chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez, killed in an August traffic accident.

Lopez, 35, a resident of Oxnard, has been a city councilmember for District Six since 2018 and also serves as a District Director for California State Senator Monique Limón since 2020.

According to her campaign for reelection to city council biography, Lopez immigrated to the U.S. at the young age of 4. As one of the youngest of 11 children, there were opportunities she was afforded that her siblings did not have. Raised locally, Vianey attended kindergarten through middle school in the Hueneme Elementary School District before graduating from Hueneme High School in 2005.

Councilmember, now Supervisor Lopez has a lengthy track record in progressive issues including her outspoken support of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights as well as other key issues including LGBTQ+ equality, immigrant rights, and has worked for several California political leaders including a stint as District Scheduler for former U.S. Representative Lois Capps from 2013 to 2016, a member of the House from 1998 to 2017 representing California’s 24th congressional district.

Lopez was a Program Coordinator for the Oxnard Downtown Management District from 2012 to 2013 and an Administrative Assistant and Concierge at the Oxnard Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2009 to 2010. She is a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens and Future Leaders of America.

Lopez earned a Master of Public Policy degree in International Relations and State and Local Policy from Pepperdine University.

Continue Reading

Southern California

Triple A: SoCal gas prices race up by double digits in one week

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week

Published

on

Photo Credit: Auto Club of Southern California

LOS ANGELES – Reports of additional Southern California refinery issues, along with continued low inventories, have created the biggest one-week price jump at the pump since early June, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.52, which is eight cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.68, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.59 per gallon, which is 17 cents higher than last week, 25 cents higher than last month, and $1.19 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.53, which is 15 cents higher than last week, 24 cents higher than last month, and $1.18 higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.53, which is eight cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and $1.18 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.44, which is 14 cents higher than last week, 23 cents higher than last month and $1.12 higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.46 average price is eight cents higher than last Thursday, three cents higher than last month and $1.10 higher than a year ago today.

“Oil Price Information Service reports that several local refineries are undergoing unplanned maintenance as fuel inventories are at their lowest levels in a decade, which caused Los Angeles wholesale gas prices to rise sharply this week,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Sept. 22, averages are:

Sept 22 22
Continue Reading

California

Newsom signs legislation to support California Native communities

Advances equity, inclusion and highlights the unique history, culture and government of tribes in the Golden State

Published

on

Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Today on Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills to support California Native communities and build on the Administration’s work to promote equity, inclusion and accountability throughout the state.

AB 1314 establishes a statewide emergency alert system for missing Native people 

In a ceremony joined by leaders of Native American tribes from across California, the Governor signed AB 1314 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) to help address the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Native people from communities across the country.

Under AB 1314, local law enforcement will be able to request that the California Highway Patrol activate an emergency Feather Alert, similar to an Amber or Silver alert, to assist in search efforts for a Native person who has been reported missing under suspicious circumstances.

“As we lift up the rich history and contributions of California’s diverse tribal communities today, the state recommits to building on the strides we have made to redress historical wrongs and help empower Native communities,” said Governor Newsom. “Today’s measures continue to move these efforts forward, including a new emergency alert system that will provide us with additional critical tools needed to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. I thank all the legislators and tribal partners whose leadership and advocacy help light the path forward in our work to build a better, stronger and more just state together.”

Governor signs AB 1314 alongside Assemblymember Ramos, Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider and leaders of Native American tribes from across the state (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“AB 1314 will help us get the word out sooner when an individual is missing or endangered, enlisting the help of the public for tips and leads as soon as possible when quick action is critical,” said Assemblymember Ramos. “I thank the Governor for signing this vital measure – creating an alert system was a top recommendation from tribal leaders for addressing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.”

The state budget this year invests $12 million over three years to fund tribally-led programs to help address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People on tribal lands. This investment built on last year’s investment of $5 million to fund training and guidance for law enforcement agencies and tribal governments to improve public safety on tribal lands and study challenges related to the reporting and identification of missing and murdered Native peoples, particularly women and girls.

AB 1936 re-designates UC Hastings College of the Law and advances restorative justice efforts for Native peoples who suffered mass killings orchestrated by the college’s founder

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1936 by Assemblymember Ramos, which re-designates the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law as the College of the Law, San Francisco and advances restorative justice efforts for Round Valley Indian Tribes and Yuki people whose ancestors suffered mass killings and other atrocities funded and supported by college founder Serranus Hastings in the mid-19th century. 

AB 1936 also outlines several restorative justice initiatives that the College intends to pursue, such as renaming the law library with a Native language name, annually reading a statement of the atrocities Hastings committed against the Yuki people and providing collaborative opportunities for Round Valley tribal students to gain debate and writing experience, among other efforts.  

AB 2022 will remove the racist and sexist slur squaw from all geographic features and place names in California

Under AB 2022 by Assemblymember Ramos, the racist and sexist term “squaw” will be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created. This comes on the heels of federal action this month to complete the removal of this slur from nearly 650 geographic features across the country, including several name changes advanced by California based on extensive tribal engagement. The Newsom Administration has launched a series of ongoing actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems.   

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1703 by Assemblymember Ramos, the California Indian Education Act. The measure encourages local educational agencies and charter schools to form California Indian Education Task Forces in partnership with local tribes to develop curricular materials that highlight the unique history, culture and government of tribes in their region.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular