George Clooney calls for Brunei hotel boycott over LGBT stoning laws

George Clooney.
George Clooney. Photo credit: Reuters

George Clooney is calling for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by Brunei after the country announced it would introduce the death penalty for adultery and gay sex.

Under the new law, passed by the country's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, offenders will be stoned to death. Sultan Bolkiah said the new law was a "great achievement."

But Clooney says the punishments are "human rights violations".

"In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone," the actor wrote in a column for the entertainment website Deadline.

"Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws", he added. "But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations?"

Sultan Bolkiah owns some of the top hotels in the world through the Brunei Investment Agency, including London's The Dorchester and Los Angeles' Hotel Bel Air and Beverly Hills Hotel.

Clooney says people should avoid staying in the hotels to avoid supporting Sultan Bolkiah.

"Every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens," he wrote.

The law has been widely criticised by a number of human rights groups.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Brunei researcher at Amnesty International told the Guardian: "As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls. To legalise such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself."

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark responded to the news in a Tweet calling it "shocking".

"Shocking news from #Brunei where new penal code provides for death by stoning as punishment for gay sex. Hard to comprehend what could be driving such a barbaric move which stands in stark opposition to fundamental #humanrights principles," the tweet read.

The small kingdom has a population of around 450,000 and is strictly ruled by the Sultan, who is one of the world's richest men. Alcohol is banned as is having children out of wedlock.