EU legal adviser backs ritual slaughter of animals without stunning

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU judges are set to repeal a Belgian law requiring all animals to be stunned before death, which has effectively banned slaughter according to Jewish and Muslim rites, a legal adviser to the ‘EU.

Gerard Hogan, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union, said a 2009 European law stipulated that animals should normally be stunned before being slaughtered, but clearly made an exception for prescribed slaughter by religious rites.

EU judges generally follow the opinions of Advocates General, although they are not required to do so. They would normally render their decision within two to four months.

The case was taken to the EU court in Luxembourg after a 2017 decree in the Belgian region of Flanders to amend its law on animal protection and welfare by requiring that all animals be first stunned.

A Jewish and Muslim association challenged the decree and the Belgian Constitutional Court referred the case to the EU Court of Justice.

Hogan said the religious exception reflected the European Union’s desire to respect freedom of religion and the right to manifest religious belief in practice and observance despite preventable suffering caused to animals.

Both Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods involve slaughtering animals with a sharp knife, which supporters say results in death almost immediately. Traditionally, prior stunning is not allowed.

The Belgian campaign group Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), whose representatives were present in court on Thursday, said it was disappointed and puzzled by the opinion, but noted that the judges could rule differently.

“How will the tribunal deal with members (of the EU) who have for years banned non-stunning slaughter: Denmark, parts of Finland, Slovenia and Sweden?” Said GAIA lawyer Anthony Godfroid.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Marine Strauss and Toby Chopra

Previous Lobster slaughter methods cause significant pain and distress, says Animal Law Society
Next Poland to ban ritual slaughter of animals for export - lawmaker