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Humane Society hopes California fur ban will inspire UK to do the same

Lauretta Roberts
13 October 2019

California has passed a law that will ban the sale and production of fur products in the US state from January 2023 and the Humane Society International hopes it will inspire further fur sales bans around the world including in the UK.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 44 on Saturday 12 October making history by making California the first US state to ban fur, which Humane Society International UK director Claire Bass said was a signifier of consumers' growing distaste for fur products.

"It is deeply immoral for animals to suffer miserable lives and painful deaths just to end up as a bobble hat or coat trim, and this ban sends a powerful message to the fur trade that its business model is unethical and its days are numbered. Now is the time for the UK to join the trailblazing to shut down markets for this cruel and outdated industry," Bass said.

The UK banned fur farming in 2000 but still imports certain types of fur from countries such as Finland, Poland and China. Domestic dog and cat fur and seal fur, for instance, are banned from sale altogether. Humane Society International has been pressing the UK to go further and ban all fur sales under its #FurFreeBritain campaign.

"Now is the time for the UK to join the trailblazing to shut down markets for this cruel and outdated industry. We banned fur farming here two decades ago for being inhumane, but now we allow tens of millions of pounds of fur to be imported; by effectively outsourcing cruelty we’ve only done half the job.

"Our #FurFreeBritain campaign is calling on the British government to follow in California’s footsteps, and make the UK the first country in the world to ban the sale of animal fur," Bass said.

California’s bill was introduced by Assembly member Laura Friedman last December and sponsored by HSI/UK’s sister organisation the Humane Society of the United States, and Animal Hope and Wellness. It passed six committees and the full Assembly and Senate with overwhelming support. It had many notable supporters among the fashion industry, including InStyle magazine, Stella McCartney, Diane von Furstenberg, 3.1 Phillip Lim, HUGO BOSS, Patagonia, H&M, GAP, J.Crew, Madewell, Des Kohan, Hiraeth and Inditex/Zara.

California’s ban increases the pressure on the UK government to ban the sale of animal fur in Britain. The #FurFreeBritain campaign, launched by HSI/UK, argues that if fur is too cruel to produce in Britain, it is too cruel to sell in Britain.

The campaign, backed by celebrities such as Dame Judi Dench, Paloma Faith, Ricky Gervais and Thandie Newton, has strong cross-party political support with MPs Zac Goldsmith, John McDonnell and Jo Swinson in favour of a ban. A UK fur sales ban is also included in the Labour party’s animal welfare plan, published last month.

Earlier this month Islington became the first London Borough to ban the sale of fur and in June of this year Ireland's cabinet approved a phased ban on fur farming in the country becoming the 15th European nation to have banned fur farming, with Norway, Luxembourg and Belgium doing so most recently in 2018.

Many big name designers and luxury houses have ceased using fur in their collections in recent years including Chanel, Gucci, Michael Kors, Versace, John Galliano, Burberry, Jimmy Choo and more.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said she expected more US states to follow California's lead. Similar bills have been introduced in Hawaii and New York. Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley have already implemented fur sales bans.

“The signing of AB 44 underscores the point that today’s consumers simply don’t want wild animals to suffer extreme pain and fear for the sake of fashion. More cities, states and countries are expected to follow California’s lead, and the few brands and retailers that still sell fur will no doubt take a closer look at innovative alternatives that don’t involve animal cruelty,” Block said.

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