British Asian Trust defends appointing Katy Perry as ambassador

The US pop singer is the only white person among the charity 33 ambassadors, who include the actors Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar

Katy Perry (left) with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the philanthropist and businesswoman Natasha Poonawalla
Katy Perry (left) with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the philanthropist and businesswoman Natasha Poonawalla

The British Asian Trust has defended its decision to appoint the singer Katy Perry as an ambassador, after the move was criticised online.

At the charity’s royal annual reception and dinner, which was held yesterday and attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, BAT announced that the American pop star had been appointed as an ambassador. 

Perry, who is already a UN goodwill ambassador, will have a particular focus on supporting BAT’s work in reducing child trafficking across India over the next five years.

In a statement, the charity said Perry had become involved with it after meeting Prince Charles last year at a meeting of BAT supporters and advisers in Mumbai. 

The trust currently has 33 ambassadors, including Perry, who is the only white representative of the charity. Other ambassadors include the actors Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, the film director Gurinder Chadha and the TV presenter Konnie Huq. 

But the charity was criticised on social media for appointing the singer. 

“Just because she got married in India and has a tattoo in Sanskrit doesn’t mean Katy Perry is the right person for this role,” Twitter user Azmina said. 

The TV presenter Dr Ranj Singh tweeted: 

Another user, x.Suzy.x, wrote: 

In a statement responding to the criticism, the charity said: “We are delighted to have Katy raising awareness of the shocking crime of child trafficking and child exploitation. Katy is one of many ambassadors working with us and supporters from all across the world to transform lives”.

Some Twitter users were supportive of the move. 

British Asian chef Maunika Gowardhan tweeted: “Everyone freaking out Katy Perry been named ambassador for British Asian Trust! She has interest in preventing human trafficking the trust's areas of interest. There are over 30 trust ambassadors – some British, some Asian, some both or neither. This can only be a good thing!”

Twitter user Ed Long acknowledged that diversity and representation in the charity sector was “a huge issue” but said that “32/33 of their ambassadors are BAME. And one white woman. Those are not the stats of under-representation.” 

Speaking at the royal reception yesterday, Perry said: “I am especially honoured to be named an ambassador for the British Asian Trust to use my voice to shine a light on the work that the trust will be doing in south Asia, and to be a part of finding solutions to protect children from exploitation and abuse.

“Children are vulnerable and innocent, and have to be protected.”

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