Brussels is justified on animal welfare to prohibit religious sacrifice

The Strasbourg Court considers that the protection of animal welfare justifies prohibiting the ritual sacrifice applied by the Muslim and Jewish religions and imposing prior stunning, in an opinion referring to a lawsuit against Belgium.

The European judges, in a ruling published on February 13, agree with the regions of Flanders and Wallonia, which, under the Belgian Animal Welfare Law, had outlawed the sacrifice of animals with the rite of those two religions.

The court estimates that this does not violate the religious freedom of those who formalized the lawsuit, 13 people and seven non-governmental organizations based in Belgium, which represent the Jewish and Muslim communities in that country.

In their complaint, those affected alleged that their right to religious freedom was being violated due to the prohibition of sacrificing animals as their tradition requires, that is, without prior stunning.

This is a pioneering ruling, as it is the first time that the ECHR interprets that animal welfare is part of the “public morality” that justifies legitimate interference in religious freedom.

Jalal and kosher rites require the death of animals according to tradition, that is, without stunning.

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