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George Clooney (Image by Nicolas Genin, via CC BY-SA 2.0)

Why George Clooney’s Hotel Boycott Sets an Important Example For Us All

It all started with George Clooney. Then Elton John and Jamie Lee Curtis jumped on board. Now, Sharon Stone is doing it too. They’re all boycotting hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei after the nation announced it would introduce the death penalty for anyone who is gay.

Whether you’re nodding your head in agreement or not, it’s important to see the bigger picture here – what George and his famous friends are doing is making an informed, conscious decision, and we should all be taking note.

A bit of background first – Brunei is a monarchy ruled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The country hasn’t had an election since 1962. Homosexuality is already illegal there but as of April 3, new laws will mean anyone who is gay will be punished by death. (The death penalty will also apply to rapists and anyone who commits adultery.)

In an op-ed for Deadline, George explains that “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 for being gay or accused of adultery”.

We’re not talking about hotels in Brunei – we’re talking about luxury hotels around the world. Paris, Rome, Milan. The Bel Air and The Beverly Hills hotels in LA. The Dorchester in London. Yep, the hotels so many celebrities – including George – have stayed in, not realising who owned them.

Elton John was quick to support George’s call, saying:  “I believe that love is love and being able to love as we choose is a basic human right. Wherever we go, my husband David and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect – as do each and every one of the millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world.”

Similarly, Jamie Lee Curtis posted her support on social media: “I stand with George Clooney, a good man doing the right thing, fighting an unjust and barbaric law.”

As did Sharon Stone who writes: “These people have the opportunity to be a big voice to heal the world. To feed the poor, heal the sick, end violence. Why spend energy on stopping love?”

Of course, there are those (like Bill Maher) who think George should just butt out. However, the reality, dear Bill, is that George isn’t trying to change the laws of another country – he’s trying to make an informed decision about what and who he supports.

As the Hollywood star explains in his op-ed: “Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?” 

This is George Clooney, making a moral choice as a person who regularly uses hotels.

Yes, this is that thing called morality. That conscience inside us all that seems to be getting so lost in this fast-paced world of instant consumerism.

This is, thinking about where our money goes, who is at the top of the chain, benefiting from our mindless hotel stays. Our mindless restaurant visits. Our mindless clothing purchases. Our magazines. Our newspapers.

We all do it – and that’s why George’s call for the boycott is so important.

Whether you agree with his actions in this case or not, George is showing us that it is possible to make a conscious, informed decision. That we can be aware. And that we don’t need to blindly consume.

What do you think?

Nehal is an award-winning news presenter, author of "A Kids Book About Kindness Online" and founder of CelebrityKind. She has dedicated her career to creating connected and healthy spaces in the media. When she's not writing, you'll find Nehal hanging with family, dancing to Beyoncé, interpreting Taylor Swift lyrics or watching old eps of Oprah.

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