Human rights groups attempt to stop Sultan of Brunei from buying New York hotels

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Leading US advocacy group the Human rights Campaign (HRC) has made a plea for supporters to speak out against the Sultan of Brunei’s attempts to acquire two hotels in New York and one in London.

In April, Hassanal Bolkiah gave approval to Brunei’s revised penal code, which urges death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity. He already owns the Dorchester Collection, which includes the Dorchester in London and the Beverly Hills Hotel in California.

The Sultan, whose family has governed Brunei for 600 years and whose fortune is estimated at $13 billion (£7.75 billion).

The Times names the Sultan as the favourite to obtain the Plaza Hotel and the Dream Downtown hotel in New York, and the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

He is expected to buy the properties for $2.2 billion (£1.32 billion).

The hotels are available as the Sahara Group’s chairman, Subrata Roy, is seeking to sell his stakes in them.

“The Sultan of Brunei could start executing women and LGBT people in Brunei as soon as next year,” said Ty Cobb, HRC’s Director of Global Engagement “The American profit stream that flows from his hotels back to his regime needs to stop. We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straight-forward message for the Sultan: take your business elsewhere.”

HRC strongly condemned Brunei’s decision to become a nation that allows for capital punishment to be used against women and LGBT people, and called on Americans to avoid his hotels. Brunei’s decision has been widely condemned by the international community.

In April, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned Brunei’s penal code reforms, saying it was “deeply concerned” and that stoning was considered to be “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” under international law.

A string of celebrities, including Ellen DegeneresStephen Fry, Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne in April began a boycott campaign against The Dorchester Collection, famous for its Beverly Hills venue.

Beverly Hills council asked the Sultan to sell his Beverly Hills hotel because of his support for the draconian penal code.

In the UK, the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) announced it will not stage its awards dinner at The Dorchester Hotel in London.