A man dressed in suit and tie, Belgian Constitution in hand, greets cows, pigs and chickens with a warm “Good day, everyone,” and reads them a few articles from the national bill of rights. A voice in the background then tells politicians to give animals a place in the Constitution.
This videoclip produced by Gaia and shown on TV since 16 March marks the relaunch of a campaign by the animal rights group to have animal wellbeing included in Belgium’s Constitution. The clip will continue to be aired on public and private TV channels countrywide until 31 March.
In an earlier phase of the campaign, the association issued an online petition in 2017, and a draft law was sent to Parliament in 2018. However, the legislature is yet to vote on the bill.
The petition now has at least 139,000 signatures and Gaia is hoping that this show of grassroots support will needle parliamentarians into “really taking action” ahead of May’s legislative elections.
“In 2018, the Senate’s Institutional Affairs Commission, for the first time, examined the proposal to enshrine the protection, dignity and wellbeing of animals in Article 7bis of the Belgian Constitution,” Gaia recalled. “During the discussions, all the parties spoke positively. Despite this consensus, the members of the Commission failed to vote on the bill.”
Including such provisions in the Constitution should help lend greater weight to laws protecting animals, according to Gaia Director Michel Vandenbosch.