Sultan Insult: LAGLC’s Lorri Jean Responds to CEO Who Casts the First Stone

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Lorri Jean, CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, has a few strong words for the weak–and potentially deadly–response from the CEO of the Dorchester Collection, which owns the historic Beverly Hills Hotel. The Dorchester Collection is owned by the sultan of Brunei, who implemented a law to put LGBT people to death.

The following is Lorri Jean’s letter to Christopher Cowdray, who flew in to “support” LGBT employees, but fell far short of condemning his boss’ law that would condemn them to death:

Dear Mr. Cowdray:

I was shocked and outraged by the comments you made in a ‘CBS This Morning’ interview that aired today regarding new laws in Brunei that punish LGBT people and others with death by stoning. How is it possible for any person of good conscience, let alone the head of a British-based company that no doubt employs large numbers of LGBT people, to say you “don’t have any opinion whatsoever” on whether LGBT people should be stoned to death?

In your interview you told reporter Ben Tracy that you flew to Los Angeles to “show your support” for your employees. I have no doubt your words were of little comfort to the hundreds of Dorchester Collection employees who would be murdered by your employer if they were unfortunate enough to live in the country he rules.

Your non-committal response is less than cowardly, it is equal to tacit approval.  I ask you quite plainly: if one of your LGBT employees, whom you claim to care so deeply for, were being stoned to death in front of you or on television for the world to see, would you still have, “No response whatsoever?”

You also said that you are feeling “picked on” by those of us who are standing up against the sultan’s brutal and inhumane laws, cloaked as religious doctrine. If you feel bullied by our call to boycott properties owned by the sultan, I’m sure you can understand why it’s difficult to pity you.  You are not the victim. Unlike LGBT people in Brunei, you are not risking your life simply for being who you are.

I can assure you that until either the sultan reverses course in Brunei and repeals all laws attacking the LGBT community and women, or until the Dorchester Collection is sold to owners who respect all human life, dignity, and worth, we will continue to urge people to take their business to other hotels.  And we will not stop fighting his barbaric laws.

You are the C.E.O. of a company owned by a man who is personally responsible for the passage of laws that call for the murdering of innocent LGBT people. You do not have the luxury of remaining silent and having no opinion. Your silence is a stone in the arsenal of your sultan.

And you should be ashamed.

Lorri Jean, C.E.O.

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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