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Hollywood stars boycott Beverly Hills Hotel over Sultan's ties to harsh new laws in Brunei

BY SANDY COHEN
AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood is responding to harsh new laws in the tiny Southeast Asia nation of Brunei by boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund joined a growing list of organizations and individuals Monday refusing to do business with hotels owned by the sultan or government of Brunei. They're protesting the country's new Islamic Shariah criminal law that calls for punishing adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships with flogging and stoning.

The Motion Picture & Television Fund says it won't hold its annual Night Before the Oscar party at the hotel as it has for many years.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, has praised his country's new laws as a "great achievement."

"The decision to implement the (Shariah penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah's command as written in the Quran," the sultan said last week.

Brunei, a conservative country where alcohol is banned and Muslim courts already govern family affairs, began phasing in its version of Shariah that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery. Most of the punishments can be applied to non-Muslims, who account for about one-third of the 440,000 people in the oil-rich country.

The most severe punishments — flogging, amputation and stoning — are to be introduced over the next two years.

Others boycotting the Sultan's Dorchester Collection of hotels include Richard Branson's Virgin Group; the Hollywood Reporter, which traditionally holds a starry media breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel; and the Feminist Majority Foundation, which moved its annual Global Women's Rights Awards on Monday from the Beverly Hills Hotel to the nearby Hammer Museum.

Mavis Leno, co-chair with husband Jay Leno of the Global Women's Rights Awards, said the new penalties for adultery, abortion and homosexuality in Brunei "violate international law and have no place in civilized society."

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