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Virgin CEO announces boycott of hotels owned by Sultan of Brunei

Saturday, May 3, 2014
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LONDON — Sir Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of the Virgin group, a £15 billion multinational conglomerate, announced Saturday that he, and his company, would boycott hotels owner by the Sultan of Brunei due to the country’s anti-gay laws.

Sir Richard BransonAP

Sir Richard Branson

“No Virgin employee, nor our family, will stay at Dorchester Hotels until the Sultan abides by basic human rights,” Branson said, in a post on Twitter.

Branson joins a growing number of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osborne and Stephen Fry, who are boycotting the Dorchester Hotel Group, owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

The tiny Southeast Asian nation has adopted a form of Islamic Sharia criminal law that includes harsh penalties such as amputation for theft and death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

Sultan Bolkiah has hailed the law as a “great achievement” for Brunei, but international rights groups and the United Nations has condemned it as a step backward for human rights.

The Dorchester Hotel Group is a collection of 10 luxury properties in the U.S. and Europe, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a government-owned corporation controlled by Bolkiah.

Dorchester properties include the famed Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, The Dorcester and 45 Park Lane in London, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Richemond in Geneva, Hotel Eden in Rome, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, and Coworth Park in Berkshire, U.K.

Last month, a group of high-dollar LGBT donors cancelled plans to hold a conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel in response to Brunei’s new penal code.

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