The International Women’s Media Foundation has pulled its Courage in Journalism Awards ceremony from the Beverly Hills Hotel to protest the passage of a new criminal code in Brunei decreeing that homosexuality and adultery can be punishable by death by stoning.
The IWMF said in a news release Tuesday that the Sultan of Brunei, who owns the hotel, also warned those in online communities that they could be prosecuted if they publicly criticize his decision to impose the new law.
IWMF presents its Courage in Journalism Awards annually to women journalists who show bravery in oppressive countries and who continue to report under dangerous conditions. Winners of the award will be announced on May 15.
This year’s West Coast ceremony, attended by major media and entertainment figures, was scheduled for Oct. 29. A companion East Coast event is set for Oct. 22 in New York.
“We, the IWMF, can no longer hold an event at a venue whose owner stands for the violation of the very human rights we fight for,” said Executive Director Elisa Lees Muñoz in the group’s news release.
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced on Thursday that he would impose the sharia law on the largely Muslim country in Southeast Asia. The law will be implemented in stages, with the harsh punishments for gay sex and adultery to be enforced in 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported. Other penalties under the law include severing of limbs and flogging for property crimes and jail terms for pregnancies outside marriage.
About 100 activists with women’s and gay groups protested Monday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, condemning the sultan’s actions, according to CBS LA. CEO Christopher Cowdray of the Dorchester Collection, the hotel’s parent company, told KCAL9 that the law is a “political and religious matter” unrelated to himself or the hotel staff.
The Hollywood Reporter said several other events, including an “night before” Oscar party, have been pulled from the hotel.