Slaughter without stunning: GAIA sues the Brussels Region

Information under embargo until 12 March 2024, 7am

Brussels, Tuesday 12 March 2024 – Slaughter without stunning: GAIA files lawsuit against Brussels Region and calls on politicians to take responsibility.

A significant loophole in the new Brussels Animal Welfare Codex

The Brussels Animal Welfare Codex, which is expected to be voted on soon by the Parliament and should provide better protection for animals in the future, still does not contain a provision banning slaughter without stunning. And this despite some 30,000 animals being slaughtered without stunning in Brussels every year.

This omission is unacceptable for animal rights organization GAIA. The recent favourable ruling on the issue by the European Court of Human Rights shows that it is high time to ban slaughter without stunning in the Brussels Capital Region as well.

Following the stubborn refusal to include a ban on slaughter without stunning in the new Animal Welfare Codex, GAIA, represented in court by Marc Uyttendaele and Victorine Nagels, has sued the Brussels Capital Region and filed a compensation claim.

Constitutional law expert Marc Uyttendaele explains: "With this indictment, we want to urge the Brussels Region to update the regulations on slaughter without stunning on the basis of recent legal and scientific developments."

1 in 3 Brussels residents willing to vote for other party

A recent survey commissioned by GAIA (Ipsos, February 2024) shows that as many as 1 out of 3 Brussels residents (32%) would vote for a different party if the party they currently plan to vote for would not prohibit slaughter without stunning.

The survey also confirms that almost 8 out of 10 Brussels residents (77%) either support a ban on slaughter without stunning or do not have an opinion on it.

Finally, the survey shows that almost all Brussels residents (93%) care about animals and their wellbeing.

GAIA calls on Brussels residents to put pressure on politicians

GAIA wants to put pressure on the members of parliament of the Brussels Capital Region to end the political impasse and consequently launched a new campaign on 12 March. Various forms of campaigning took place:

  • In the morning, some 5,000 “moo-boxes” with the sound of a bleating sheep were handed out at Brussels Central Station. These “moo-boxes” symbolise the 5,000 sheep and goats that will be slaughtered without stunning before the June 2024 elections. In this unique way, GAIA wants to give Brussels residents a chance to let the voice of these animals be heard.
  • A giant 60m2 poster was rolled out on Place Poelaert, a deliberately chosen location opposite the Palace de Justice, on 12 March.
  • In addition, a poster campaign was also launched, and radio spots were broadcasted on national radio stations.
  • Two trucks carrying the campaign visual will be driving through the streets of Brussels, more specifically near the headquarters of various political parties during multiple days.

With its campaign, GAIA calls on Brussels residents to contact MPs, asking them to finally ban slaughter without stunning and to include such a ban in the Brussels Animal Welfare Codex.

“We want to activate the public to end the cowardly and indifferent attitude of Brussels politicians. In 2022, they failed to approve the ban, even though it had been approved by both veterinary associations and the highest judicial bodies. Now is the time to finally end cronyism and electioneering and do the right thing,” explains GAIA’s President Michel Vandenbosch.

As a reminder, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), which includes more than 300 000 practising veterinarians, and the Belgian Union Professionnelle Vétérinaire agree that slaughter without stunning is "unacceptable" in all circumstances. ​ Let us also remember that not only the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Belgian Constitutional Court, but also the European Court of Human Rights have ruled that a ban on slaughter without stunning does not violate freedom of religion and does not constitute a form of discrimination.

Every animal that is slaughtered without stunning goes through intense and prolonged suffering, with cattle suffering up to 14 minutes of agony.

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About GAIA

GAIA – Global Action in the Interest of Animals – unites supporters for animal welfare and animal rights in Belgium since 1992. With over 80.000 affiliated members, GAIA denounces animal cruelty and abuse including thorough investigations, and active and peaceful campaigning.


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