Hundreds gathered outside Brunei-owned The Dorchester hotel in London on Saturday afternoon (April 6) to protest against the country imposing the death penalty for gay sex.
Campaigners surrounded the five-star complex in Mayfair, at one point breaching barriers put up outside the hotel and storming onto the building’s steps.
The demonstration was organised after LGBT+ activists and celebrities—including George Clooney, Billie Jean King, and Ellen DeGeneres—advocated for people to boycott nine hotels owned by Brunei in protest against the draconian legislation.
As well as The Dorchester, these hotels include The Beverley Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Le Meurice in Paris, and Hotel Eden in Rome.
Brunei implemented the strict Islamic legal system of sharia law on Wednesday (April 3), making gay sex between men punishable with death by stoning and lesbian sex carrying a sentence of 40 whips of the cane or a 10 year jail sentence.
Campaigners storm onto the steps of Brunei-owned The Dorchester to protest against gay sex death penalty
The Brunei Investment Agency—a government-owned corporation—possesses the hotels, which also include Plaza Athénée (Paris), Hotel Meurice (Paris), Principe di Savoia (Milan), Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles), Coworth Park (Ascot), and 45 Park Lane (London).
Activists chanted pro-LGBT+ phrases, including: “What do you want? LGBT rights! When do you want them? Now!,” and: “Homophobia has got to go.”
The demonstration was organised by The Peter Tatchell Foundation and Benali Hadamache, co-chair of The Green Party’s LGBT+ arm, LGBTIQA+ Greens.
“We are urging countries worldwide to suspend diplomatic, economic and military relations with Brunei and to threaten boycotts, sanctions and disinvestments if these extremist Sharia punishments are not revoked,” said Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The UK royal family must stop hosting the Sultan and cut all ties with his despotic regime. Brunei should be suspended from the Commonwealth.
“These draconian laws violate the Commonwealth Charter, which Brunei has agreed to uphold.”
The introduction of the strict Islamic legal system of sharia law in Brunei, a former British protected state, will also impose the death penalty for adultery, amputation for those found guilty of theft, and flogging for abortion.
Activists set off smoke bombs and lay down rainbow-painted stones on the steps of The Dorchester
Protestors set off smoke bombs and laid rainbow-painted stones on the steps of the hotel to represent LGBT+ people in Brunei that will be executed under the legislation.
“We are urging countries worldwide to suspend diplomatic, economic and military relations with Brunei.”
—Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
“The move to kill gay people by stoning is barbaric and has no place in the 21st century,” said Hamdache.
“It’s time to demonstrate that London will not tolerate the Sultan’s brutal homophobia.
“We encourage all businesses and individuals to boycott any dealings with his chain of hotels. The Sultan should become an international pariah.”
“Just as importantly, we call on the UK government to take action against the Kingdom.
“It’s time, via the Commonwealth and all available channels, to pressure Brunei to rethink or else to withdraw our economic and political involvement with the country.”