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City Council Reaffirms Condemnation Of The Government Of Brunei For Harsh Penalties For Homosexuality

Posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 8:40 pm

In a unanimous vote, the City Council reaffirmed its condemnation of the government of Brunei Tuesday for implementing Shariah law that imposes harsh penalties, including death by stoning, for homosexuality, adultery and other behaviors. The new penal code also includes the punishment of amputation for theft.

The resolution, Resolution 14-R-12980, reaffirms the City’s “condemnation of the government of Brunei as well as other governments that engage in similar policies, for adopting laws that impose extreme and inhumane penalties including execution by stoning, flogging and severing of limbs,” and reaffirms their resolve that the government of Brunei divest itself of the Beverly Hills Hotel and any other properties it may own within the City of Beverly Hills.

Several employees delivered impassioned statements in support of the hotel, including one who identified as a member of the LGBT community.

A boycott, “impacts the people who work there,” said Mayor John Mirisch. “A boycott is directed at the wrong people, the hardworking people who would be stoned themselves. That was not a part of our policy last time and it is not included now. The call is for divestment. They have no business owning a hotel of this history and elegance, and we strongly urge them to divest… It’s a personal choice.”

Brunei is a tiny oil-rich nation of about 450,000 people, run by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah who also serves as the prime minister. In recent years, according to CNN, the country has become more conservative, including banning the sale of alcohol. It is on the island of Borneo, close to Islamic countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 2014, the country announced the new laws, which have been implemented gradually. They are the first country in the region to adopt shariah law. Brunei’s attorney general announced the latest phase would be implemented on Dec. 29, 2018.

A statement from the office Brunei’s Prime Minister says that Brunei has, “always been practicing a dual legal system… based on the Syariah (Shariah) Law and the other on Common Law.” The two systems are set to run parallel, beginning April 3.

The new laws have sparked a public outcry worldwide. Several celebrities have joined to boycott hotels owned by the Sultan, including the Hotel Bel Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel.

On May 7, 2014, when the new laws were announced, the City Council issued a similar resolution. Dozens of employees of the Beverly Hills Hotel came to the City Council meeting to express their opposition to a boycott of the hotel.

Employees from every walk of life spoke against an official boycott, which affected their jobs, as opposed to having an effect on the Sultan’s decision regarding Shariah Law.

The Beverly Hills Hotel is one of several hotels in Paris, London, Milan, Ascot and Geneva that are affected.

Christopher Cowdry, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, flew in from London in 2014 and spoke on behalf of the 650 people that are employed at the Beverly Hills Hotel and who account for the $11 million in taxes received by the City. He vowed that he “would protect their jobs, no matter what.”

Councilmember Julian Gold remarked that there are many other countries which engage in human rights violations similar to Brunei that probably do business in Beverly Hills.

Countries which employ amputation, flagellation and lapidation (death by stoning) as per Sharia Law include Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, according to Wikipedia. It has also been practiced in Iran. Flogging and caning are practiced Indonesia and Malaysia.

Vice Mayor Lester Friedman was not convinced.

“This doesn’t go far enough,” he said. He asked staff if there are City events at the Hotel. There are none, though the Rotary Club meets there. “Strongly condemning and strongly urging is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t go far enough.”

Friedman called for, “a policy where City employees don’t participate in events at the hotel.” 

Both Mayor Mirisch and Councilmember Lili Bosse strongly disagreed.

“We did see the consequences of that. It affected the little people. The Sultan couldn’t care less. If people don’t want to go there because of the association, that is their opinion.”

“I agree with the sense of outrage,” said Councilmember Julian Gold. “It doesn’t achieve anything… it hurts people who don’t deserve to be hurt. The reality is there is virtually nothing we can do to punish the perpetrators. I get that sense of impotence, but we have to be mindful of the innocents. If we want to hurt the Sultan, we should find alternate transportation. We do not tolerate discrimination in Beverly Hills.”

“We are a community that is humane and human… Human civil rights, marriage rights, who you love, freedom of religion… to not take a strong stand against governments who take that away… I am glad we are doing that again. I look forward to a day when we don’t have ownership like that in our community. That is not who we are.”

It’s a personal choice.”

Brunei is a tiny oil-rich nation of about 450,000 people, run by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah who also serves as the prime minister. In recent years, according to CNN, the country has become more conservative, including banning the sale of alcohol. It is on the island of Borneo, close to Islamic countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 2014, the country announced the new laws, which have been implemented gradually. They are the first country in the region to adopt Shariah law. Brunei’s attorney general announced the latest phase would be implemented on Dec. 29, 2018.

A statement from the office Brunei’s Prime Minister says that Brunei has, “always been practicing a dual legal system… based on the Syariah (Shariah) Law and the other on Common Law.” The two systems are set to run parallel, beginning April 3.

The new laws have sparked a public outcry worldwide. Several celebrities have joined to boycott hotels owned by the Sultan, including the Hotel Bel Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel.

On May 7, 2014, when the new laws were announced, the City Council issued a similar resolution. Dozens of employees of the Beverly Hills Hotel came to the City Council meeting to express their opposition to a boycott of the hotel.

Employees from every walk of life spoke against an official boycott, which affected their jobs, as opposed to having an effect on the Sultan’s decision regarding Shariah Law.

The Beverly Hills Hotel is one of several hotels in Paris, London, Milan, Ascot and Geneva that are affected.

Christopher Cowdry, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, flew in from London in 2014 and spoke on behalf of the 650 people that are employed at The Beverly Hills Hotel and who account for the $11 million in taxes received by the City. He vowed that he “would protect their jobs, no matter what.”

Councilmember Julian Gold remarked that there are many other countries which engage in human rights violations similar to Brunei that probably do business in Beverly Hills.

Countries which employ amputation, flagellation and lapidation (death by stoning) as per Sharia Law include Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, according to Wikipedia. It has also been practiced in Iran. Flogging and caning are practiced Indonesia and Malaysia.

Vice Mayor Lester Friedman was not convinced.

“This doesn’t go far enough,” he said. He asked staff if there are City events at the hotel. There are none, though the Rotary Club meets there. “Strongly condemning and strongly urging is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t go far enough.”

Friedman called for, “a policy where City employees don’t participate in events at the hotel.” 

Both Mayor Mirisch and Councilmember Lili Bosse strongly disagreed.

“We did see the consequences of that. It affected the little people. The Sultan couldn’t care less. If people don’t want to go there because of the association, that is their opinion.”

“I agree with the sense of outrage,” said Councilmember Julian Gold. “It doesn’t achieve anything… it hurts people who don’t deserve to be hurt. The reality is there is virtually nothing we can do to punish the perpetrators. I get that sense of impotence, but we have to be mindful of the innocents. If we want to hurt the Sultan, we should find alternate transportation. We do not tolerate discrimination in Beverly Hills.”

“We are a community that is humane and human… Human civil rights, marriage rights, who you love, freedom of religion… to not take a strong stand against governments who take that away… I am glad we are doing that again. I look forward to a day when we don’t have ownership like that in our community. That is not who we are,” said Councilmember Lili Bosse.

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