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Why is the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel being boycotted?

Celebrities and other groups are angry about harsh new laws being implemented more than 8,000 miles away
Beverly Hills protests grow against hotel owner over Brunei laws 03:12

The protests are getting louder across the street from the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, as the Beverly Hills city council is expected to consider a resolution Tuesday that would call on the Sultan of Brunei to sell the famed hotel.

"His policies of murdering and torturing gay and lesbian people and women have no place in a civilized society," said Lorri Jean, CEO of LA Gay & Lesbian Center.

Last week the sultan began implementing strict Sharia Law in the predominately Islamic and very oil-rich nation on the island of Borneo in southeast Asia, reports CBS News' Ben Tracy. The sultan's government runs the Brunei Investment Agency, which owns the Dorchester Collection, a portfolio of 10 hotels including the Beverly Hills and the Hotel Bel-Air.

The hotels have gotten caught up in controversy because the new laws in Brunei are incredibly harsh. They call for amputations and flogging of women who have abortions and stoning to death of gay men and lesbians

"What is this, 1814?" former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno said at the protest Monday.

Beverly Hills Hotel faces boycotts as owner plans to impose anti-gay laws in Brunei 00:25
He and his wife, Mavis, had planned to headline an event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but they canceled. Leno joined other notable names including Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne in calling for a boycott.

"We hope [to] draw attention to this and people go, 'OK, maybe I won't hold my event there until they change this,'" Leno said.

At least nine major events have been pulled from the hotel including an annual pre-Oscars party.

Christopher Cowdray, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, flew in from London to do damage control.

"I wanted to come and support the employees of the hotel," Cowdray said.

He said his company follows the laws of the United States and Europe, not Brunei.

"The Beverly Hills Hotel has done absolutely nothing wrong," Cowdray said, saying he feels "totally unfairly picked on."

"All they are doing is hurting a local business," he said.

For more than 100 years the hotel, known as the pink palace, has been a playground for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Robert De Niro. Its iconic status is now threatened.

"Does the Dorchester Collection have an opinion of the laws being implemented in Brunei?" Tracy asked.

"No, I don't have any opinion whatsoever," Cowdray said.

"You don't think they are wrong?"

"I am not prepared to comment on that," he said.

The hotel did bring out water and cookies for the protesters, trying to show hospitality in the face of adversity.

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