'Doctor Who' actor says he wishes women's minister didn't 'exist' during speech on LGBTQ rights

David Tennant took aim at Kemi Badenoch, the UK's women and equalities minister, at the British LGBT Awards

Former "Doctor Who" actor David Tennant told a top U.K. government minister to "shut up" during a speech about LGBTQ rights, adding that he hoped for a world in which she didn't "exist."

Tennant took aim at Kemi Badenoch, the U.K.'s Minster for Women and Equalities, last week when accepting an award at the British LGBT Awards for being a celebrity ally. Badenoch, a leader in the Conservative Party, has come under fire for her past comments on sex and gender.

"If I’m honest, I’m a little depressed by the fact that acknowledging that everyone has the right to be who they want to be and live their life how they want to live it as long as they’re not hurting anyone else should merit any kind of special award or special mention, because it’s common sense, isn’t it?" Tennant said while accepting his prize. 

"However, until we wake up and Kemi Badenoch doesn’t exist anymore — I don’t wish ill of her, I just wish her to shut up — whilst we do live in this world, I am honored to receive this," he added. 


International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch

Tennant took aim at Kemi Badenoch, the U.K.'s women and equalities minister, last week when accepting an award for being a celebrity ally at the British LGBT Awards.  (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Badenoch responded on X, accusing the actor of being "blinded" by his ideology.

"I will not shut up," she wrote. "I will not be silenced by men who prioritize applause from [British LGBTQ+ charity] Stonewall over the safety of women and girls. A rich, lefty, white male celebrity so blinded by ideology he can’t see the optics of attacking the only black woman in government by calling publicly for my existence to end."

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who has vocally supported women's rights and has spoken out against the trans movement, reposted the minister's message.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova also took aim at Tennant, writing, "Wow. The misogyny is in full force!!! Ladies and gentlemen- I give you the perfect example of Male Entitlement… Omg…"


Author JK Rowling

Author J.K. Rowling arrives at the RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 12, 2019, in New York City.  (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

The squabble comes just days before Britain's General Election. The Tories recently made an election pledge to make biological sex a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. Gender reassignment is currently protected. 

"This is about protecting those who are vulnerable, it is not about stopping trans people from having privacy and dignity," Badenoch said of the pledge in an interview with LBC, a British talk radio station, earlier this month, The Telegraph reported.

Tennant's remarks outraged British lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The British prime minister, Rushi Sunak, weighed in on the clash.

"Freedom of speech is the most powerful feature of our democracy," Sunak said on X. "If you’re calling for women to shut up and wishing they didn’t exist, you are the problem."


Meanwhile, James Cleverly, the home secretary, called on Tennant to apologize, noting Badenoch's historic appointment.

"I’m not sure David understands the irony of trying to silence the voice of the most senior Black female politician in the UK’s history, in the name of ‘defending’ a minority community," Cleverly wrote on X.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested the Scottish actor be more respectful.

"I think in politics, as in life, it’s really important that we are able to robustly disagree with others," Starmer said. "Obviously, that happens a lot in the general election campaign, but we should do it with respect for everybody involved in that robust discussion. I wouldn’t have engaged in the way that he did. I think it’s right that we have these robust discussions, but we must do it respectfully."


Keir Starmer speaks at the House of Commons

Keir Starmer, leader of Britain's Labour Party, speaks during the Prime Minister's Questions, at the House of Commons in London, Britain on Nov. 15, 2023. (UK Parliament/Maria Unger/Handout)

It's not the first time Tennant has waded into the political arena, but his recent comments have some British media wondering if he's gone a step too far.

"The actor has long criticized the Conservative Party, but have his recent comments on Kemi Badenoch crossed the line?" The Telegraph wrote Wednesday.

Tennant and Badenoch did not respond to requests for comment.

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