European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate-General Gerard Hogan has stated that a ban on ritual Halal slaughter in the Belgian region of Flanders violates European Union law and should be overturned.
The non-binding opinion, which comes before the ECJ makes a full ruling on the issue, was announced earlier this week after Muslim and Jewish groups took the matter to court following the passing of the ban in 2017 and its implementation in January of 2019.
According to Advocate-General Hogan, the Flanders ban on ritual slaughter without stunning violates EU law allowing religious exemptions to slaughter animals without the use of any stunning prior to killing the animal, HLN reports.
Michel Vandenbosch, president of the animal rights association Global Action in the Interest of Animals (Gaia), said that he, and lawyer Anthony Godfoid, were both “perplexed” by the opinion and disappointed.
Belgium Bans Halal Slaughter, But Muslims in Capital Brussels Are Exempt https://t.co/fMGctYBMhG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 22, 2018
Godfroid, however, was optimistic about the case, saying: “It is frequent that the Court of Justice does not follow the opinion of the Advocate-General.”
“Everyone within the Court of Justice will be aware of the enormous repercussions associated with following the Advocate-General’s advice,” Godfroid said. Several other EU member states have banned ritual slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, and Slovenia.
The Belgian region of Wallonia also banned the practice after Flanders, with the EU power centre and national capital region of Brussels being the only remaining area in the country that allows ritual slaughter.
Flemish Minister of Animal Welfare Ben Weyts, a member of the centre-right New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), said: “The Advocate-General says that non-stunned slaughter is at the heart of the religious practice, whereas in many Muslim countries there is widespread sedated slaughter.”
Weyts added that such a ruling would allow those of religious beliefs to have extra privileges compared to others and said, “For me, religious freedom never grants a license to kill.”
Note, this is not a ban on Halal. Just a ban on the cruel practice of un-stunned slaughter… https://t.co/FxjzyQRSD9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 29, 2017