Grammy award winning singer and songwriter John Legend has canceled an appearance at a pre-Grammy party sponsored by LA Confidential magazine at the Beverly Hills Hotel because of the anti-gay views of the hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei.
The magazine sent a letter to attendees Wednesday explaining Legend, who appears on the latest issue’s cover, would no longer attend, in his rep’s words, “in light of the horrific anti-women and anti-LGBT policies approved by the hotel’s owner.”
“These policies . . . certainly don’t represent John’s values or the spirit of the event,” the statement read.
The tiny Southeast Asian nation of Brunei 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.
LA Confidential had planned to honor Legend at the event, which he was due to attend with his wife Chrissy Teigen. Legend appears on the magazine’s cover this month.
On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign HRC released a public letter to the leadership of L.A. Confidential urging them to find another location for their event given Brunei’s new laws.
Following Legend’s announcement that he would not be attending the event, the HRC said it was also urging all potential guests “to follow Mr. Legend’s leadership and avoid lining the Sultan’s pockets and sending profits back to his regime.”
Katherine Nicholls, the CEO of the magazine’s parent company, Niche Media Holdings, also issued a statement, claiming that “to boycott all companies and hotels with affiliations and ownership in nations that do not share our beliefs would cause serious financial harm and damage to the Los Angeles community, and the American economy.”
The HRC called Nicholls’ assertion “laughable.”
“Claiming that moving their party would harm Los Angeles’ or the nation’s economy is almost laughable, and clearly a last ditch effort to deflect criticism,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “We called on the leadership of the magazine to change hotels — not the city or the country – -as dozens of other organizations have chosen to in the months since the Sultan passed these horrific laws.”
A number of high profile celebrities, including Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osborne, Jay Leno and Dreamworks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, have been boycotting The Beverly Hills Hotel and other properties owned by the Dorchester Hotel Group.
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 Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
Sultan Bolkiah has hailed the law as a “great achievement” for Brunei, but international rights groups and the United Nations have condemned it as a step backward for human rights.
In addition to the famed Beverly Hills Hotel, Dorchester properties include the 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.