BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Hollywood stars are taking advantage of awards season to take a stand against hotels owned by the anti-gay Sultan of Brunei.
Thursday evening, stars and their supporters rallied outside the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Last year, the Sultan of Brunei legalized harsh punishments for same-sex couples looking to marry, including stoning to death. New laws in Brunei also make is legal to rape a wife if she is over the age of 13.
L.A. Confidential Magazine and Ciroc vodka hosted a Grammy pre-party at the hotel Thursday evening. December/January cover man John Legend was scheduled to appear and play music.
But Legend vocally pulled out from performing at the event and said he had no intention of showing up. “These policies are heinous and certainly don’t represent John’s values or the spirit of the event,” a representative for Legend said in a statement. She added: “John does not, in any way, wish to further enrich the Sultan while he continues to enforce these brutal laws.”
Protesters outside the hotel told partygoers to turn away.
KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper said the protesters praised Legend for canceling.
“I expect most celebrities will follow his lead and stay away from the Beverly Hills Hotel,” Leigh Shelton said.
“If they look at the issue,” said Mark Curtin, “they would understand their presence here gives ammunition to someone who is doing serious hurt and damage.”
The hotel boycott is supported by Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osbourne, Jay Leno, Richard Branson, Dreamworks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and gay-rights organizations like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, to name a few.
In addition to the very upscale Beverly Hills Hotel, the billionaire Sultan owns nine other ultra-luxury properties around the world, including the Hotel Bel-Air.
L.A. Confidential had issued a media alert for the party, announcing confirmed celebrity attendees, including Legend, his wife supermodel Chrissy Teigen, Common and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay. It is unclear how many celebrities, if any, attended Thursday’s party.
In a statement, the magazine said: “Los Angeles Confidential Magazine is an avid supporter of equal rights for all people. Our decision to hold our event at the hotel in now way suggests that we support any anti-human-rights policies.”