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Gaia welcomes the recognition of animals as sentient beings

For people staying at home, distracting the pets by playing with them may help. Credit: Pxfuel

With the coming into force of the new Civil Code, the sentient nature of animals will be recognised, the animal rights association Gaia applauded, following a plenary vote in parliament on Thursday.

“Animals” will from now on be placed in a distinct category, separate from the others of “people” and “belongings.”

Previously, animals fell under the category of “belongings”, “which constituted a genuine anachronism,” according to Ann De Greef, Gaia’s director. The law of property will continue to be applied to them, but in compliance with animal protection rules.

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“Animals will still be subject to trade but are nevertheless obviously not inanimate objects. This reality is now legally recognised,” she continued.

Gaia hopes this change to the Civil Code will lead judges to make decisions in the best interests of the animal in civil law disputes, for example with regard to the custody or access to a dog in divorce proceedings.

The animal rights association from now on wants the inclusion of animals in the Constitution as sentient living beings, with their own interests and dignity. Last year, it presented the former prime minister Charles Michel with a petition to this effect signed by over 152,000 citizens. Germany, Luxembourg and Slovenia have already included such protection in their constitutions.

The Brussels Times

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