On November 24, the Senate approved in plenary session the inclusion of animals in the Constitution, the highest legal norm in the country. For GAIA, this is a significant victory. The next and final step will be the vote in the Chamber of Representatives
30 November 2023

The Senate has approved the proposal to amend Article 7bis of the Constitution, with the vote achieving the required two-thirds majority in both language groups.

The proposal aims to add the following words: "In the exercise of their respective competences, the federal State, the Communities, and the Regions ensure the protection and well-being of animals as sentient beings.

As you may remember, it had previously received approval from the Commission on Institutional Affairs in early October.

If adopted, the extension of Article 7bis would have concrete implications for animals:

  • Animal welfare would carry more weight in the constitutional balance.
  • The legislative and executive powers would be encouraged to adopt better laws in favor of animal welfare.
  • It would exert an undeniable influence on judicial decisions in cases of mistreatment, encouraging judges to give animals and their well-being increased legal weight.

Since 2016, GAIA has been advocating for the inclusion of animal welfare as a constitutional matter. The Constitution stands as a cornerstone of our legal framework, embodying the core values of our society. Granting animals a constitutional status as sentient beings would not formally give them fundamental rights, but it would afford them a higher level of recognition within our legal system.

Michel Vandenbosch
GAIA President

GAIA's desire to grant constitutional protection to animals finds strong support among Belgians. According to an Ipsos poll conducted in February 2023, 86% of them are in favor of integrating animals into the Constitution.

Next and final step: the vote in the Chamber of Representatives. At least two-thirds of the deputies from both language groups will need to approve the text to make Belgium the fourth EU member state to grant animals a constitutional status, following Germany, Slovenia, and Luxembourg.

Result of the Senate vote

Vot du Sénat

50 voters: 47 in favor, 2 against (Steven Coenegrachts - Open Vld, Willem-Frederik Schiltz - Open Vld), 1 abstention (Stijn De Roo - CD&V)