Celebrities vow boycott over sultan of Brunei's new Islamic laws
Celebrities including Virgin group founder Richard Branson have vowed to boycott a hotel chain linked to Brunei's sultan after he introduced a controversial Islamic penal code in his country.
Brunei's all-powerful Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced last Wednesday that he would push ahead with the laws that would eventually include tough penalties such as death by stoning.
Branson said on the weekend that Virgin employees would not stay at the Dorchester Collection luxury hotel chain, which includes the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
"No Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights," the British billionaire posted on Twitter. Others who have called for a boycott include comedian Stephen Fry, television host Sharon Osbourne and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
The US group Feminist Majority Foundation said it had also pulled its annual Global Women's Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, from the Beverly Hills Hotel in protest.
The Dorchester Collection is reportedly owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a sovereign wealth fund under the oil-rich sultanate's Ministry of Finance.
Brunei government officials could not be reached.