London (20 April 2021) -- CEOs and Directors from five of the UK’s largest animal protection organisations gathered today with campaigners in geometric fox masks at the gates of No 10 Downing street to submit 1 million petition signatures to the Prime Minister, calling for the UK to ban the sale of cruel animal fur.
The #FurFreeBritain petition, led collectively by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the RSPCA, comes the day before a Ten Minute Rule Bill to propose a fur sales ban will be heard in the House of Commons. Celebrity supporter Chris Packham joined the petition hand-in virtually with a video message declaring his support for a UK fur sales ban.
Fur farming was outlawed in the UK nearly two decades ago in 2003, because it was deemed too cruel an industry to support. But since then Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals experience terrible suffering and mental distress on fur farms. This is a double standard that needs to end - if fur is too cruel to produce in this country, it's too cruel to sell in this country.
The 1 million petition signatures, from supporters all over the world, were submitted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson together with a letter from Brian May, which reads that the UK has “the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards, and close our borders to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade”. The joint letter was co-signed by Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal Aid, The Jane Goodall Institute, Viva!, and Brian May’s Save Me Trust. Petition platform Care2 also supported the petition, as did Change.org with a personal petition by TOWIE star Pete Wicks. A government e-petition also added 109,533 signatures to the total.
Brian da Cal, FOUR PAWS UK Director said, “In excess of one million signatures have joined our calls to remove the sale of fur from our shores. We banned fur farming many years ago, but until we extend the same legal provisions to the sale of it, we cannot fully embrace what so many are demanding. Fur farming is a cruel practice and with brands, both designer and high street, removing it, it is clear that the use of fur is no longer in fashion. Now, the only step left is for the Government to recognise this and fully embrace that we want to be a Fur Free Britain.”
Queen Guitarist Brian May, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "Fur farming was banned in this country almost twenty years ago, we showed great leadership on animal welfare then and now we have the opportunity to act as a global leader in moral standards again, by closing our border to the cruel, outdated, unnecessary and dangerous fur trade. I urge you, Prime Minister, to take decisive action now and make Britain fur-free!"
Claire Bass, Executive Director for Humane Society International/UK, said, “Fur farming is rightly banned here, but we’re still importing the same cruelty from overseas. The government has the opportunity to end that double standard and our million signature petition today shows that there is enormous public support for a fur trade ban. The British public, along with politicians, designers, celebrities and retailers are in agreement that incarcerating and killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, the future of fashion is fur free.”
Elisa Allen, Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said, “Permitting fur imports flies in the face of the values held by the overwhelming majority of British people, who do not wish to support an industry in which animals are drowned, electrocuted, and even skinned alive. The government must listen to the will of the people and bring forward this much-needed legislation.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive for the RSPCA said, “We want to see an end to an industry where animals are suffering and dying for fashion. Breeding animals for fur can be a cruel and unnecessary business that should have no place in the modern world. Even though fur is no longer farmed in the UK, it is still legal to import and sell it here. So the UK remains complicit in the continuation of the global fur market, profiting from this cruel international trade. It is shameful and it’s high time we got our house in order and made fur imports and sales illegal. Our petition calling for a Fur Free Britain has been supported by thousands of animal lovers and we hope the Government listens to our calls to end this horrific trade in the UK.”
Connor Jackson, CEO for Open Cages said, "I have looked into the eyes of deranged foxes circling their filthy cages, waiting to be killed for their fur. I have seen these sensitive wild animals reduced to clothing, denied even the most basic needs. It's crystal clear that suffering is fundamental to the fur industry, and Britain is complicit with every day we continue to allow fur to be sold on our high streets.”
The majority of British people support the proposed fur sales ban. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll commissioned by HSI/UK shows that 93% of the British public do not wear real animal fur, and the words 79% of people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.
Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do.” The campaign has also received cross party political support from 140 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 267 against real fur imports.
- A total of 1, 065, 247 signatures have been added to the Fur Free Britain petition to date.
- More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, chinchillas and rabbits – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
- Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, the French government is currently debating a ban on mink fur farming, and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
- Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
- In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington state would ban the production of fur.
- Mink on more than 420 mink fur farms across 12 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, is another compelling reason for governments around the world to call time on fur, by banning farming and sales.