Elton John Joins Clooney Boycott of Brunei-Owned Hotels

(Bloomberg) -- Elton John has urged a boycott of luxury hotels owned by the Brunei sovereign wealth fund, over potential new anti-gay laws that would make homosexual sex punishable by death by stoning.

Brunei is due to enact legislation this week, making those found guilty of adultery or same-sex acts liable to whipping or stoning. The 72-year-old musician took to Twitter after actor George Clooney highlighted the issue in a website posting last week.

Elton John Joins Clooney Boycott of Brunei-Owned Hotels

“I commend my friend, #GeorgeClooney, for taking a stand against the anti-gay discrimination and bigotry taking place in the nation of #Brunei -- a place where gay people are brutalized, or worse -- by boycotting the Sultan’s hotels," John said in a tweet.

The musician listed nine venues to avoid, including London’s Dorchester, along with the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. The properties form part of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. A person answering the phone at the Dorchester said a press officer wouldn’t be able to comment until Monday.

Human rights group Amnesty International also criticized Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code. It said the legal changes were announced in a discreet notice on the attorney general’s website.

The Brunei Investment Agency is a government-owned wealth fund that invests on behalf of the small oil-rich sultanate located on the north coast of Borneo, in southeast Asia. Oil and gas account for the vast majority of the country’s exports and government revenue.

Clooney wrote a guest column for website Deadline last week, citing the importance of the date in early April. “But this April 3rd will hold its own place in history. On this particular April 3rd the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay," he said. “Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone."

Brunei started enacting Islamic criminal law in 2014, which prompted a number of entertainment events to be pulled in protest. At the time billionaire Richard Branson and TV host Ellen DeGeneres said they would avoid the properties.

In other tweets about the new boycott, Elton John made clear his actions weren’t aimed at hotel staff. “Our hearts go out to the good, hardworking employees of properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei, many of whom we know to be gay," John tweeted.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.