The British government’s Ministry of Justice had blocked a “culturally insensitive” move to ban cat meat and dog meat, fearing it could offend people in Asian countries.
Cabinet Office chief Michael Gove drew up plans to outlaw the possession of cat and dog meat over the while he was still Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), according to reports.
However, the move is understood to have been blocked by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), currently headed by former solicitor-general Robert Buckland, after “nervous civil servants” suggested it was “culturally insensitive” and liable to cause offence in Asian countries where cat and dog meat consumption is more common.
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The MoJ’s reasoning came as something of a surprise to Giles Watling, a Tory MP who has championed a ban, who pointed out “It’s not culturally insensitive because we’re not telling them what to do – we’re just telling them what we do” in comments to The Sun.
“Dogs are our companion animals. We do not eat them, and that is a very important message to send to the rest of the world,” he asserted.
Animal welfare campaigners in Asia itself have also stressed the importance of Western governments setting an example, with Kike Yuen of the World Dog Alliance explaining that “legislation against dog meat in UK would provide us with strength to continue our work in Asia, as the UK could influence other countries to stop dog meat consumption” in December 2018.
“Most of them usually refused to do so with the excuse that there is no such law in Western countries.”
Britain’s former colony of Hong Kong, now a semi-autonomous but increasingly repressed province of the People’s Republic of China, is one of the few jurisdictions in the Far East which has banned dog meat, as has the independent Republic of China — commonly known as Taiwan.
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“We currently have some of the strongest animal welfare laws in the world,” claimed a Ministry of Justice spokesman in response to the controversy.
“The government is currently considering whether any changes are needed in this area in the UK and will set out any plans in due course,” they added non-commitally — language which generally indicates that there are no plans to act on a particular issue.