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Change.org's 10 Biggest Victories As Petition Website Celebrates 100 Million Users

23/06/2015 07:09 | Updated 23 June 2015

More than 100 million people have signed Change.org petitions to push for change on issues, the website has revealed.

The website launched in the UK in 2011 and now has more than eight million users here, making Britain its second largest market.

A total of 3.3 million Britons have signed a petition whose goal was ultimately fulfilled. They included the largest change.org petition ever launched in the UK - which saw more than a million people signed it to 'Save Meriam' from execution in Sudan for apostasy.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian woman, was freed from jail in Iran after 777,000 people signed a petition calling for her release.

A total of 37,000 people signed Caroline Criado-Perez's petition calling on the Bank of England to keep a woman on bank notes, prompting a commitment to place Jane Austen on the £10 note - and a torrent of misogynist abuse and threats towards Criado Perez.

Change.org has developed a powerful association with calls for change - no Twitterstorm or controversy passes by without someone setting up at least one Change.org petition.

Iman Ghavami, Ghoncheh Ghavami's 28-year-old brother from London, said: “My petition played a pivotal role in my campaign and the ultimate release of my sister.

"In the age of internet and social media a Change.org petition can be the best, quickest and most effective method of spreading your message far and wide to millions of people.”

The the 10 biggest Change.org victories from around the world:

  • 10 Overturn The Ban On Gay Scouts
    Change.org
    Karen Andresen's son Ryan (pictured) had been in the Boy Scouts for more than a decade when he was rejected for its highest honour - The Eagle Award.
    His scoutmaster refused to approve him for it after finding out Ryan was gay.
    "It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he's perfect," Karen wrote in her petition calling for an end to ban on gay youth in the Scouts. "Ryan has worked for nearly 12 years to become an Eagle Scout, and nothing would make him more proud than earning that well-deserved distinction.
    "I hope that if enough people come together, we can convince my son's troop leaders to help him feel proud of who he is and all he's accomplished."
    In May 2013, Boy Scouts of America's National Council voted to overturn the ban. In all, 479,734 people signed the petition.
  • 9 Get Justice for Quinten
    Change.org
    Quinten Douglas Wood, 15, died from complications of pneumonia. But his elder sister Valerie Wood-Harber said Oklahoma child welfare had neglected to act on her fears that he was being neglected by their father. In the weeks before his death, Quinten was being cared for entirely by his brother Cameron.
    In her petition calling for the state's child welfare services to be investigated, she wrote: "I called Child Welfare Services at least once a day, every single day for 3 weeks. The social worker assigned to the case visited Cameron at school, promising him that she would do a home visit the very next day. Cameron told me that every day he'd hold Quinten and say, 'Just be patient Bubby, Sissy is sending someone to save us.' No one ever came." 502,788 people signed the petition that forced the state to investigate. Social workers assigned to the case were found to be negligent and dismissed. The state later passed the 'Quinten Douglas Wood Act of 2014' that requires child welfare workers take a child's developmental age into account when investigating claims of abuse or neglect.
  • 8 Stop The Annuity To Former MPs Convicted Of Corruption
    Change.Org
    An Italian petition called for an end to the annual payments given to former lawmakers convicted of corruption, including ties to organised crime.
    In May this year, Italy's chamber of deputies voted to abolish the payments, after 522,991 signed it.
  • 7 Give ‘Bully’ A PG-13 Instead Of An R Rating
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Katy Butler, 17, a high school student and bullying victim, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, started a petition calling for the documentary 'Bully' to be given a PG-13 rather than an 'R' rating.
    Calling on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to allow the film a wider audience, she wrote: "Because of the R rating, most kids won’t get to see this film. No one under 17 will be allowed to see the movie...I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change -- and, in some cases, save -- their lives.
    "Over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?"
    523,462 people agreed. Eventually, so did the MPAA, which granted the PG-13 rating.
  • 6 Oppose Thailand's Blanket Amnesty Bill
    615,103 people opposed Thailand's controversial amnesty bill that would have protected people, including the prime minister's brother, from corruption charges.
    In November 2013, the country's senate voted the bill down.
  • 5 'Light The Lantern For Justice!
    Change.Org
    622,328 people signed a Turkish petition in defence of senior officials at Fenerbahçe Sports Club, a football club whose management was accused of match-fixing.
    The petition claimed the case violated "basic legal principles" and called for a retrial, which was eventually ordered.
  • 4 Save Beau's Life And Return Him To His Owner With No Fees
    Beau was sentenced to die for killing a duck. He is, we should specify, a dog.
    But people in Dyersburg, Tennessee were outraged at the decision and that Beau's owner (pictured) was being charged to keep him in his kennels, where he was allowed to visit him ahead of Beau being put down.
    The Change.org petition to the city's mayor was ultimately signed by 636,067 people. It pleaded: "Beau does not deserve a death sentence - he was just being a dog."
    City officials eventually reneged on their plans and Beau was returned to his owners.
  • 3 Release Grand Theft Auto V on PC
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    Not every Change.org petition is on a weighty subject - 728,144 people signed a petition to have Grand Theft Auto V released on the PC.
    The 2013 blockbuster was initially released only on PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360. Eventually, Rockstar Games announced it would release a PC version.
  • 2 Don't Execute Meriam Yehya Ibrahim For Being Christian
    Change.Org
    Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Christian, faced death for her religion.
    Under Sudanese law, her marriage to her Christian husband was void. This and her conversion to Christianity meant she was guilty of apostasy, abandonment of religion and adultery. The penalty was to be flogged and executed. She gave birth in prison, awaiting the sentence to be carried out.
    Malmesbury resident Emily Clarke started a petition calling on Sudan's government to set Meriam free, writing: "People around the world rallied to raise awareness to #bringbackourgirls kidnapped Nigeria, I hope the world will also stand up for Meriam.
    "The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is abhorrent."
    After the petition fuelled the campaign to #saveMeriam, a Sudanese Appeals Court freed her and she left the country. A total of 1,092,281 people signed the petition, the largest ever for one started by someone from the UK.
    Ms Clarke, 21, told HuffPost UK: "Change.org provided the platform for me to reach out to my networks and ask others to reach out to theirs in support of Meriam Ibrahim. The result of this cascading effect was a loud, international and unified call for change.”
  • 1 Prosecute George Zimmerman Over The Death Of Trayvon Martin
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Trayvon Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot dead.
    Two weeks later, Trayvon's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin started a Change.org petition calling on Florida's State Attorney to investigate and prosecute George Zimmerman (pictured). It became the fastest-growing in the site's history and more than two million people had signed it when, a month later, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.
    "We feel less alone knowing that so many people stood with our family during this impossible time," his parents said.
    Zimmerman was later acquitted of the charge by a jury.

Petitions vary dramatically in controversy and significance. Some of the more high-profile - but failed - petitions from the UK include more than a million people signing to demand Jeremy Clarkson be re-instated as 'Top Gear' host and nearly 500,000 people demanding Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith be forced to live on £53 a week after saying this was possible.

The five fastest-growing UK petitions were:

  • Over 250,000 signed in 48 hours to free Ashya King's parents.
  • In 10 days over million people signed for the BBC not to sack Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear.
  • The petition for Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week hit 300,000 signatures in 3 days, climbing to over 400,000 in less than week .
  • Over 240,000 people signed to restart the search for the missing Cheeki Rafiki sailors, two days after the petition starter the coastguard restarted the mission.
  • More than half a million people signed Iman's petition to free his sister Ghonchech in two weeks, the petition eventually grew to 777,626 before she was released on bail.

Brie Rogers Lowery, UK director of the site, said: “With over 8 million users, the UK has embraced Change.org faster than almost any other country in the world - because our platform hands people the power to start, run and win their own campaigns in record time.

“Millions have signed winning petitions since Change.org launched in the UK in 2011 and with Change.org powering around ten campaign victories a week, the internet is increasingly the first place citizens turn when they want to hold power to account.”

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