HRC Condemns Dorchester’s Shameful Attempts to Deflect Criticism of Sultan of Brunei

Washington –– Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned the Dorchester Collection’s shameful attempts to use its own employees to divert attention away from actions taken against the Sultan of Brunei’s hotels.  This ploy comes despite assurances from the company that it has guaranteed the positions, income, and benefits of all of its employees for as long as the controversy continues.

Since the beginning of its crisis, the Sultan’s Dorchester Collection has said repeatedly that its employees were the true “victims” of these actions, and that only they would feel the financial impact of Americans choosing other locations instead of its hotels.  Now the company has started to parade its employees and their stories––some of whom would be subjected to these new laws if they lived in Brunei––on social media and for members of the press.

“The Sultan's Dorchester Collection is using its employees as human shields in a desperate attempt to deflect criticism of the Sultan,” said Jeff Krehely, Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer at HRC.  “The fundamental truth is that profits from these hotels belong to a regime that could start executing women and LGBT people as soon as next year.  Shame on the Sultan’s Dorchester Collection for using its staff in this way, when the only person truly responsible for the situation is the Sultan of Brunei himself.”

This news comes amid promises from its leadership that it will “protect” its employees from these actions, and that their jobs, salaries, and income from tips will be “secured.”  This stands in stark contrast to continuous assertions that the actions taken against the Sultan’s hotels will result in a substantial income loss for its staff.

“Its leadership is talking out of both sides of their mouths.  Given the Dorchester Collection’s guarantees, how will their staff be impacted moving forward?” said Krehely.  "With $20 billion in the bank, the Sultan can afford to support his employees many times over. But what his company cannot afford to do––if it wishes to fix its very badly damaged reputation––is continue to shamefully use its employees in a deceptive effort to shield the Sultan from criticism."

Earlier this month, HRC joined the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, civil rights organizations, prominent citizens, and business leaders in condemning the Sultan’s decision to begin implementing a horrific new series of penal code reforms. These could, among other punishments, lead to women and LGBT Bruneians being stoned to death as soon as next year.  In addition, it also called on Americans who support the rights of women and LGBT people to avoid the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air, both of which are owned by the Sultan of Brunei and his Brunei Investment Agency.

In the time since, the Dorchester Collection, which runs the hotels, has stated that it’s seen dramatic decreases in business and millions of dollars lost at its properties in California.  In addition, prominent citizens in the United KingdomFrance and elsewhere have stated publicly that they too will avoid the Dorchester’s properties, and have encouraged others to do the same.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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