April 2019: The Society of British & International Design (SBID) has decided to relocate its International Design Awards and the 2020:Meet The Buyer events away from London’s The Dorchester hotel, which is owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.
“SBID do not support the law imposed in Brunei against the LGBT community,” the society said in a statement.
“As a standard-bearer organisation for the interior design industry, we believe in equality, diversity and as a business we actively promote best practice standards. Having reviewed venue choices for 2019 and in light of the ongoing human rights issues in Brunei, we have taken the decision to relocate away from The Dorchester.”
SBID is keen to stress the decision is no reflection on the operational staff working at the hotel. The society is yet to finalise a new venue.
Earlier this month, Brunei introduced strict new anti-LGBT laws. Under the new rules, homosexual acts between men are punishable by stoning to death, while women face 40 strokes of the cane or a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The legal change saw a host of LGBT campaigners and celebrities, including George Clooney and Sir Elton John, call for a boycott of hotels belonging to the Dorchester Collection.
Owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, the nine hotel-strong group – which, alongside the Dorchester in London, further includes 45 Park Lane (also in London), The Beverley Hills Hotel, and Le Meurice in Paris – ultimately belongs to the Sultanate.
The Police Federation and the TV Choice Awards cancelled their events at the venue, while Deutsche Bank banned all staff from staying in any of the nine hotels belonging to the Dorchester Collection.