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Animal welfare organisation takes Brussels to court over religious slaughter

10:24 15/03/2024

Belgian animal welfare organisation Gaia is suing the Brussels region for damages as part of a public campaign against the allowance of slaughter without stunning, which is required for the production of kosher and halal meats.

Gaia cites a “significant loophole” in the new Brussels Animal Welfare Code that will come before parliament soon, saying it does not contain a provision banning slaughter without stunning, sometimes referred to as “religious slaughter”.

The damages being sought are a penalty of €10 for each slaughter carried out without stunning.

“Some 30,000 animals are slaughtered without stunning in Brussels every year,” Gaia said, citing a ruling on the issue by the European Court of Human Rights in favour of permitting bans on the practice.

“That's enough avoidable animal suffering,” said Gaia president Michel Vandenbosch.

“Brussels politicians must finally prove that they take animal welfare, the scientific consensus and the wisdom of no less than 34 judges of the highest courts seriously and let it prevail over flat electoral opportunism.”

Gaia cites a survey that it commissioned through global market research and public opinion specialist Ipsos in February, which found that one in three Brussels residents would vote for a different party if the party they currently plan to vote for refused to prohibit slaughter without stunning.

“The survey also confirms that almost eight out of 10 Brussels residents (77%) either support a ban on slaughter without stunning or do not have an opinion on it, and almost all Brussels residents (93%) care about animals and their wellbeing.”

Gaia launched a new campaign on 12 March to put pressure on the members of the Brussels parliament “to end the political impasse”.

That campaign includes a number of actions, including the distribution of 5,000 “bahh-boxes” at Brussels Central Station. Gaia explained that the boxes, which play the sound of sheep bleating, symbolise the 5,000 sheep and goats that will be slaughtered without stunning before the June 2024 elections.

“In this unique way, Gaia wants to give Brussels residents a chance to let the voice of these animals be heard,” the organisation said.

It also unveiled a 60-metre tall poster on Place Poelaert opposite the Palais de Justice, accompanied by a regular poster campaign and the broadcast of radio spots. Trucks bearing campaign visuals will tour Brussels near the headquarters of various political parties during multiple days.

“With its campaign, Gaia calls on Brussels residents to contact MPs, asking them to finally ban slaughter without stunning and to include such a ban in the Brussels Animal Welfare Code,” the organisation said.

Written by Helen Lyons