The hotel is one of many owned by the Sultan of Brunei
Yesterday, days after Brunei implemented horrific anti-LGBT laws making gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death, campaigners staged a demonstration at London’s Dorchester Hotel, one of many hotels owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.
While high-profile figures such as George Clooney have called for a boycott of the Sultan’s hotels – which are spread throughout the US, the UK, Italy, and France – the protest was a way for everyone opposing the new ruling to have their voices heard.
“I went to yesterday’s protest because I felt like it was one of the only things I could do to illuminate the appalling situation for queer people in Brunei,” says Conall Jackson, 25, who attended the protest.
“I’m definitely not in the pay bracket where I can boycott the Dorchester and other Sultan-owned establishments, but hopefully demonstrating outside communicated to those inside that spending their money there is directly benefiting someone wanting to stone LGBTQ+ people to death for existing. If you can afford to stay in the Dorchester you can afford to change your plans to somewhere else.”
At the Dorchester – where 500 people rallied, according to gay rights activist Peter Tatchell – protesters broke through barriers and besieged the front doors, sending a clear message of anger and outrage. They also dumped rainbow-coloured stones on the steps, wrote anti-Sultan messages, and raised a rainbow flag at the scene.
“I went to the protest at the Dorchester because I wanted to stand in solidarity with my community and allies who are against the human rights attack on our brothers and sisters in Brunei,” says Max Damjanovic, 24. “It was a peaceful protest but of course there was a lot of anger, rightly directed at the Sultan of Brunei. ‘Shame on you’ and ‘fuck the sultan’ were my personal faves chant-wise. We wanted them to hear that when you come for one of us, you come for all of us.”
Of course, those who couldn’t attend the protest themselves also shared messages across social media, opposing Brunei’s law. “The next time I am on Park Lane outside of it I’m going to stop and stand there in honour of sisters and brothers in #Brunei!” wrote one Twitter user, and others expressed their solidarity with the protesters. See more scenes from the protest below.