The State Council rejected, in a decision on Monday, two proposals in a Walloon decree aiming to prohibit the ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning. The Council had done likewise last year in relation to similar texts in Flanders. It suggested that the authors should anticipate potential modifications to the text.
The Council’s legislative section confirms that, in its view, purely and simply deleting the current exemption for the requirement to stun the animals before ritual slaughter, would constitute a disproportionate restriction. This would be incompatible with freedom of religion.
The Council of State certainly recognises the legitimacy of wishing to avoid animal slaughter but stresses the lack of modifications sought so far to obtain the “right balance” between animal welfare and freedom of religion. The Council goes on, “It is thus important to come back to these two proposals so as to provide such modifications as are necessary.”
As alluded to above, the prohibition on ritual slaughter without stunning the animal is subject to two separate proposals of a draft decree in the Wallonia parliament, issued by Christine Defraigne (of the MR) and Josy Arens (of the Humanist Democratic Centre).
The issue has already been raised in meetings with religious communities, to try to finalise a consensus on the method of slaughter after “reversible stunning”.
A case is also pending before the European Court of Justice. Many advocate the need to await the Court’s ruling. The Walloon Minister for Animal Welfare, Carlo Di Antonio (also of the cdH), had anticipated integrating the prohibition in his Animal Welfare Code.