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Brussels parliament to consider banning religious animal slaughter without stunning

05:34 21/01/2022

The Brussels parliament will consider a draft ordinance that would ban the slaughtering of animals without stunning, as is traditionally done for Kosher and Halal meats.

The proposal, presented by minister of animal welfare Bernard Clerfayt, bore strong similarities with similar measures that passed in Wallonia and Flanders, which were then upheld in a European court of appeal.

“The Open VLD party has long been in favour of a ban on unanaesthetised slaughter in the context of animal welfare,” said co-signer Carla Dejonghe.

“Of course, we understand the different sensitivities. It was not for nothing that we waited for the ruling of the constitutional court. We have worked on a text that takes account of this in all respects, by providing for an exception in the context of religious rituals that allows for reversible stunning.”

Dejonghe said that she and other proponents hope the consensus will find broader support in parliament “and make a serene debate possible”.

The text will go through the usual parliamentary procedure over the coming months and then be discussed in the environment committee, after which it will be voted on in the plenary session.

“For the Groen party, it is important that animals are treated with dignity in all stages of their lives,” said co-signer Lotte Stoops. “Their end of life is also part of that, because we look at animal welfare from conception to possible meat consumption.”

Jonathan de Patoul, who accepted the proposal’s submission, acknowledged that the issue of anaesthetised slaughter is a sensitive one in the Brussels region, which has a significant Muslim population and a smaller Jewish one.

“That is why I am glad that we can bring the debate to the parliamentary assembly, as has also happened in Flanders and Wallonia,” de Patoul said.

Legislation of its nature has been proposed for years, but this is the first time it has made it on to the agenda.

Photo: Gaia/Hans Moyson

Written by Helen Lyons