By Tim Fitzsimons
Brunei, the tiny Southeast Asian monarchy, is facing a major celebrity blowback over news that it will institute Sharia law for crimes including homosexuality, which could be punishable through death by stoning.
Singer-songwriter Elton John, who is gay, tweeted his support for a boycott of Brunei-connected hotels this past weekend, only days after actor George Clooney penned an op-ed calling for a global effort to boycott hotels connected to Brunei’s sultan.
“In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism, this stands alone,” Clooney wrote of the news from Brunei.
Clooney stated that his past boycott of Brunei-linked hotels was “effective to a point,” 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.”
The Brunei Investment Agency counts on that, he said.
“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 added.
Elton John tweeted his support for the boycott Saturday, noting that he and his husband, David Furnish, “have long refused to stay at these hotels and will continue to do so.”
“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 added.
John followed up with a list of Brunei-linked hotels that he plans to boycott: The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London; Coworth Park in the countryside outside London; The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles; Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris; and Hotel Eden and Hotel Principe, both in Italy.
In his op-ed, Clooney noted that over the years, he’s learned that you “can’t shame” the world’s “murderous regimes.” However, he added, “you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”
The new Sharia law penalties are set to come into effect April 3, according to Amnesty International, which last week condemned Brunei’s plans as “cruel and inhuman.”