Yesterday, a major protest was held across the street from the Beverly Hills Hotel in California. The iconic property is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, whose tiny Asian nation has begun implementing a draconian new Islamic law code that will eventually punish gays and women who commit adultery by stoning them to death.
Notable attendees included Jay Leno and his wife Mavis, Kathy Spiller and Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority, labor advocate Dolores Huerta, and Lorri Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Variety reports:
"What year is this? 1814? Come on people, it's 2014," said Jay Leno, before some four dozen protesters with banners directed at the Sultan, including one that read, "Seriously, dude?"
"Evil flourishes when good people do nothing, and that is pretty much what this is," Leno said at the rally, adding that the issue should hardly be divisive but was a matter of "common sense."
"This is not complicated. These are not crazy left-wing wacko people," he said.
In her remarks, Lorri Jean slammed the Sultan of Brunei:
"His policies of murdering and torturing gay and lesbian people and women have no place in a civilized society... we have got to keep attention on his horrible policies. No decent person or government or business should have anything to do with the Sultan of Brunei because of his murderous and torturing policies."
Protesters also called for Brunei to be kicked out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant the nation America's most privileged trade status despite its appalling human rights record.
More information -- and video footage of Jean's speech -- is after the jump.
Watch Lorri Jean slam the Sultan and rip anti-LGBT, anti-woman religious extremism, both abroad and here at home:
Hollywood is piling on to the iconic hotel -- in addition to Leno, celebrities from Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry to Sharon Osbourne and Sir Richard Branson have joined the boycott. The Motion Picture Television Fund announced this week that it is moving its glitzy, star-studded pre-Oscar party out of the hotel.
LGBT groups are protesting as well: gay philanthropist Tim Gill's Gill Action Fund yanked its prestigious OutGiving conference, and the Human Rights Campaign is urging LGBT people and allies to stay away from all hotels owned by the Sultan's Dorchester Collection, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air.
Variety reports that tonight, the Beverly Hills City Council will debate a resolution calling on Brunei to sell the hotel; the Los Angeles City Council is being urged to follow suit.
But the CEO of the Sultan's Dorchester Collection, Christopher Cowdray, says that the hotel isn't going to be sold. And in an interview with CBS, Cowdray said that everyone really needs to stop protesting because he feels totally picked on, you guys:
He said his company follows the laws of the United States and Europe, not Brunei.
"The Beverly Hills Hotel has done absolutely nothing wrong," Cowdray said, saying he feels "totally unfairly picked on."
But when CBS News's Ben Tracy gave Cowdray a chance, on behalf of the Dorchester Collection, to condemn Brunei's barbaric death-by-stoning laws, he refused to even comment.
While it's cute that the hotel is feeding cookies to the protesters, I think it's safe to say the protests and boycotts aren't going away anytime soon.
TPP photo via Twitter user @citizenstrade. Photo of Lorri Jean via the Feminist Majority Foundation.