Beverly Hills Hotel Boycott Gathers Steam

Such extreme brand damage will be difficult to repair

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The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) has joined a growing boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, pulling its Courage in Journalism Awards ceremony from the venue.

The owner of the iconic Tinseltown hospitality brand, the Sultan of Brunei (aka Hassanal Bolkiah), is implementing Sharia-based laws in his country that will apply capital punishment to homosexuality and adultery. The laws also call for amputations, the flogging of women who have abortions and the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians.

Numerous organizations and celebrities—among them Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Branson—are joining in the protest. Entertainment industry legend Clive Davis and DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg also are no longer clientele of the iconic hotel, reported The teen suicide-prevention charity Teen Line, which had scheduled an event there, pulled a $60,000 down payment and found a new venue, per reports, while Adweek sibling The Hollywood Reporter said it would not hold its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast there.

Long known as a destination for Hollywood legends such as Marilyn Monroe and Orson Welles, the bad press and protests have tarnished the glamorous image of the Beverly Hills Hotel, one of the most famous hotels in the world. 

The IWMF is now looking for a new location to hold its Oct. 29 event. Its past awards shows have attracted the likes of Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Olivia Wilde and Christiane Amanpour.

"We, the IWMF, can no longer hold an event at a venue whose owner stands for the violation of the very human rights we fight for," said Elisa Lees Muñoz, executive director. "As a consequence to the introduction of Sharia law in Brunei, we have decided to cancel our contract with the Beverly Hills Hotel and move this year's Courage Awards to another location."

The Sultan controls the Brunei Investment Agency, which owns the Dorchester Collection, a portfolio of 10 hotels that also includes Los Angeles' ritzy Hotel Bel-Air.

Update: This story originally stated the IWMF's event was later this month.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.