Singer and songwriter John Legend announced that he would not be performing at the coveted L.A. Confidential party hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel in protest of the new penal code introduced by the Hotel’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei.
The penal code, which went into effect in May, calls for harsh punishments for women who become pregnant outside of marriage, women who have abortions, for adultery, and for anything deemed “indecent behavior.” It also threatens women who engage in same-sex relations with fines, imprisonment, or whipping, and men who engage in same-sex relations with flogging or death by stoning.
“These policies,” said Legend’s publicist Amanda Silverman in a statement, “are heinous and certainly don’t represent John’s values. John does not, in any way, wish to further enrich the Sultan while he continues to enforce these brutal laws.”
Right now, the United States and President Obama are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that is looking to partner with 11 countries, including Brunei. The Feminist Majority and members of Congress are sounding the alarm, and the Feminist Majority released a petition asking people to urge their representatives to vote against the TPP agreement.
“At a minimum, the US should not enter into a partnership with a country that just last year adopted a penal code authorizing torture and violence against its citizens,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, in a blog for the Huffington Post, “we must call on the President to seriously address the impact of the TPP on human rights,” Smeal added.
Other activist groups and celebrities have spoken out against of the hotel and its ties with the Sultan of Brunei, such as Ellen DeGeneres, John Elton, and Sharon Osbourne. In May, the Feminist Majority Foundation pulled its annual fundraiser from the Beverly Hills Hotel, and hosted a rally across the street from the hotel attended by Mavis and Jay Leno, actress Francis Fisher, and many more.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 2/9/15; CNN 2/6/15; Feminist Majority; Feminist Newswire 5/6/14