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US union takes on Asian LGBT activists fight against Brunei

US union takes on Asian LGBT activists fight against Brunei

A union on the other side of the world has taken on the fight of LGBT activists in Asia who were excluded from a meeting in Brunei last week.

US-based hospitality union Unite Here were alerted to the exclusion of LGBT groups from an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) conference by a Gay Star News report.

In response, dozens of Unite Here members protested outside the Brunei-owned Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles last Thursday (25 April).  

The group who were excluded from the meeting in Brunei, ASEAN SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) Caucus, expressed gratitude to Unite Here.

‘We encourage those who believe in human rights for everyone everywhere to speak up and take actions against grave human rights violations,’ said ASEAN SOGIE Caucus in a statement.

Unite Here has an on-going labor dispute against the hotel and its sister business, the Bel-Air Hotel.

‘The Bel Air fired 250 members of its staff after renovating in 2011,’ said a statement from Unite Here. ‘Some of the fired employees worked at the hotel for more than 20 years.’

The Bel-Air Hotel and the Beverly Hills Hotel are members of the Dorchester Collection, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, whose profits go to the government of Brunei, an absolute monarchy and Islamic state where homosexuality is illegal.

The union are active in supporting LGBT rights and donated funds to the campaign against Prop 8 which banned gay marriage in California. It has protested outside the Beverly Hills Hotel before to show its members object to the intolerance of LGBT rights in Brunei.

‘We have a regular picket there, especially when there are LGBT orientated events at the hotel,’ Hal Weiss, spokesperson for Unite Here told Gay Star News.

‘The hotel put out a Tweet that said "lots of countries have extremist religious governments, that doesn’t govern how we run our hotel" which is missing the point.

‘The point is, your owners and the people who profit from the hotel are homophobic. We want to let the customers know what’s going on.’

Unite Here started a campaign called Breaking Up with the Beverly Hills Hotel.

‘Brunei’s ownership of a hotel in Los Angeles, one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, is the height of hypocrisy,’ says a statement on the campaign website.

‘The Beverly Hills Hotel’s owners don’t believe in equality, but they love to take our money. If we wouldn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A, why would we dine at the Beverly Hills Hotel?’

Watch a video made for the campaign here: