The R&B singer, songwriter, and producer, aka Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, was scheduled to marry fiancée Nicole Patenburg this weekend at the Hotel Bel-Air. Instead, the couple made the last-minute decision to relocate their nuptials to a different, undisclosed location in Beverly Hills.
The reason: They're just the latest in a growing list of Hollywood power players to take a stand against the Sultan of Brunei, whose newly enacted laws promise harsh penalties, even death, for such acts as homosexuality, theft, or premarital sex.
"Yes, that was the reason they moved it," a publicist for the artist tells Yahoo. "They do think highly of the staff of the Hotel Bel-Air and feel badly that they are caught in the middle of this. The staff were a pleasure to work with."
In recent weeks celebrities as varied as Jay Leno and Sir Richard Branson to Ellen DeGeneres and Kim Kardashian have joined the boycott of the two Los Angeles-based luxury accommodations, the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, both owned by the Brunei leader, Hassanal Bolkiah.
Brunei's new law — phase one of which went into effect on May 1 — enforces the most strict of Islamic criminal punishments. In the small but oil-rich country, Muslim citizens can now be fined or jailed for anything ranging from not performing Friday prayers to getting pregnant out of wedlock.
When the final phases are implemented by 2015, adulterers and homosexuals will be subjected to stoning, flogging, and amputation.
"The decision to implement the [Shariah penal code] is not for fun but is to obey Allah's command as written in the Quran," the sultan said.
Bolkiah — one of the richest men in the world — controls the Brunei Investment Agency, which owns the Dorchester Collection of hotels. The Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel are the Collection's only two U.S. properties. The group also owns eight sites in Europe.
The entertainment industry protest against the two high-profile L.A. hotels has even spawned its own hashtag — #StopTheSultan.