Today, the Belgian Constitutional Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) on the ban on slaughter without stunning.
Following a protracted legal struggle dating back to last December, the CJEU clearly concluded, in response to preliminary questions from the Belgian Constitutional Court, that member states are allowed to impose "compulsory stunning" before slaughter. With this judgment, the Belgian Constitutional Court also confirms the legality of the ban in Flanders and Wallonia.
GAIA, member of the Eurogroup for Animals, has been campaigning for more than 25 years to ban ritual slaughter without stunning in Belgium. In 2014, 10,000 people marched in Brussels to demand a ban. Finally, in 2017, the Walloon and Flemish decrees prohibited the slaughter of animals without stunning. The bans went into effect in 2019 for both regions, but were later challenged by several religious organizations on the grounds of religious freedom.
The CJEU ruling viewed the latest developments in reversible stunning as a method that successfully balances the seemingly conflicting values between religious freedom and animal welfare, and it concluded that “the measures contained in the decree (Flemish) allow a fair balance to be found between the importance given to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to practice their religion ” .
" This puts an end to a long legal battle in favor of the Flemish and Walloon ban, the sole purpose of which is to avoid inflicting scientifically proven suffering and easily avoidable practices during the killing of animals, without exception for slaughterings carried out in a religious context " commented Michel Vandenbosch, president of GAIA.
To this day, the Brussels-Capital Region still authorizes slaughter without stunning and this will be the next step for GAIA:
"Now that the Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of the Flemish and Walloon bans, there is no longer a valid reason not to introduce a total ban in the Brussels-Capital Region as well. GAIA urges the Brussels government and parliament to introduce such a ban without further delay " added Mr Vandenbosch.
Mr Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Eurogroup for Animals, declared: "We congratulate GAIA for its tireless efforts on these bans. Last December, we celebrated together an important victory for animals and today we have more reasons to welcome the confirmation from the Constitutional Court. Now is the time for the EU to make it mandatory during the next review of the slaughter regulation. " added Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Eurogroup for Animals.