Sultan of Brunei bid for five-star hotels angers gay rights activists

The controversial Sultan came under fire in 2013 for endorsing his country's strict Shariah criminal law

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The Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah denied on Tuesday media reports that he was mulling the purchase of three landmark hotels including New York's Plaza, according to Agence France-Presse.

Earlier this week, Bolkiah was reportedly the favorite among bidders to purchase the five-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York, in a move that has angered gay rights activists.

The sultan, who also owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, came under fire in 2013 for endorsing his country's strict Shariah law which calls for punishing adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships.

If the $2.2 billion sale was finalized, Bolkiah would have joined two other investors who already own the property, according to the New York Post.

Indian tycoon Subrata Roy put up the two trophy properties and another luxury New York hotel for sale last week in a move to raise $1.6 billion for the bail bond that will get him out of Tihar, a New Delhi prison.

Roy, who owns the Sahara Group, was jailed in March after failing to appear at a contempt hearing in a long-running legal dispute with the regulator of India’s capital markets. Roy denies any wrongdoing.

The industrialist has been negotiating the sale from his prison office in Delhi.

Brunei practices a conservative brand of Islam relative to its Muslim neighbors in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Nearly 70 percent of the sultanate’s people are Muslim ethnic Malays, while about 15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese, followed by indigenous peoples and other groups.

The sale and public consumption of alcohol is banned and activities of others religious are closely restricted.

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