US: LGBT conference boycotts Brunei-owned hotel over ‘stone the gays’ law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A pro-gay conference due to be held at a hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei will move to a different venue, after the Asian country changed the penal code to call for gays to be stoned to death.

OutGiving, an LGBT equality-focussed conference for rich philanthropists, had been due to be held at the five star Beverly Hills Hotel in May.

However, after Brunei passed a change to the penal code which calls for gays to be stoned to death, the group decided to boycott the Los Angeles-based hotel, owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who instituted the policy.

The secretive conference is open by invitation only, and invites are only extended to individuals whose annual philanthropy exceeds $25,000 (£14,896)

The Gill Action Group, which organises the $1750 (£1042) per-head conference, has since confirmed that they are now planning to hold the event in a different venue.

Kirk Fordham, executive director of Gill Action, told the Washington Blade: “In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property.

“We are seeking a return of all deposits.”

Leslie Lefkowitz, a spokesperson for the Brunei-owned hotel, said: “In the hotel industry, it is not uncommon for organizations to change aspects of their corporate programs, including the scope, date and/or venues of planned events

“Anytime a valued business partner decides to alter their plans, we respect their right to do so and look forward to the next opportunity to be of service to them.”

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned Brunei’s new penal code earlier this week.

He said: “Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law.”