Slaughter without stunning: GAIA files a complaint with Unia

Slaughter without stunning: GAIA files a complaint with Unia

GAIA action
07 September 2016

The animal rights association GAIA filed a complaint with Unia, the Inter-Federal Centre for Equal Opportunities, to end the discrimination resulting from the animal welfare law of 14 August 1986, which grants criminal immunity for people of Muslim and Jewish faith to slaughter animals without stunning.

“Our complaint concerns specifically the exception in the law that permits any person of Muslim or Jewish faith to slaughter an animal without stunning, for their personal consumption, while those who do not adhere to these religions must stun the animal before slaughter,” says Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA. “In the name of religion, current legislation allows some citizens to cause an animal to suffer more than others. Such discrimination is unacceptable.”

In its complaint, GAIA intends to demonstrate that this exception in the law constitutes an unjustified direct discrimination against anyone not practicing the Muslim or Jewish religion, in the sense that they otherwise have a legal obligation to stun an animal before slaughter.

GAIA particularly requests Unia to recognize this exception as an unjustified discrimination. Moreover, GAIA seeks Unia’s support in calling on the competent ministers and the regional governments to put an end to the unnecessary and avoidable suffering of hundreds of thousands of animals slaughtered without stunning (both during the Feast of Sacrifice and in slaughterhouses throughout the year). "Obviously we wish for abolition of this exception in the law that discriminates against anyone not of Muslim or Orthodox Jewish faith, and not a lifting of the obligation of prior stunning," insists Michel Vandenbosch.

"In no way does GAIA oppose religious traditions – what we are opposed to is the animal suffering arising from these traditions,” said Michel Vandenbosch. He added, "As long as people eat meat and as long as animals are slaughtered, whether or not in a ritual manner, GAIA (as well as Belgian and European veterinary associations) will always be of the opinion that slaughter must in all circumstances be preceded by the most appropriate and effective stunning method. Electrical stunning is an example of a reversible process quite compatible with the precepts of Islam."

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