Victory Day for slaughter without slaughter: ‘Animals have feelings’

The Environment Committee will consider tomorrow the ban on slaughter without electrocution. Animal rights MP Victoria Austret is calling on parliamentarians to vote in conscience and not be guided by party orders. “There is no argument standing in the way of reducing animal suffering,” she says.

At the end of the interview, Austreet asks, “Do I repeat the arguments in favor of a ban on non-stunning?” “First, there is scholarly consensus that electrocution before slaughter reduces animal suffering, second, European judges have declared that animal rights are a matter of public interest and that religious freedom may be restricted in this respect, and second, the vast majority of Brussels residents believe that they should Banning slaughter without stuns. What are parliamentarians waiting for?” she says furiously.

The Brussels Parliament has held several weeks of hearings and tomorrow in the commission will discuss a decree banning the ritual slaughter without amazement in Brussels, as Wallonia and Flanders have already decided. The outcome of the vote is very uncertain.

What did you learn from those sessions?

straight: that much of the meat that is halal-labeled is consumed in Brussels, which comes from animals that have been traumatized before slaughter. Which sheds a different light on the resistance here. This concerns half of the lamb, which comes from New Zealand, for example, but it also concerns chicken and rabbit.

In the end, it seems that the hearings did not achieve much. Opponents of banning slaughter without stuns, especially PS and PTB, did not change their position. Nor do supporters.

straight: sessions were not balanced at all. When we saw the list of experts, it was already clear that opponents of the suspension had the upper hand. If you look at who spoke up to defend the interests of the animals – and they’re clearly the number one victim here – it was just a vet, and Gaia.

In contrast, there were seven representatives of religious denominations, economic sectors, and constitutional specialists opposing the ban. That was disproportionate.

There was already one central question: How can we reduce animal suffering. Then you see that two parliamentary groups have invited a professor (neuropsychiatrist Jean-Michel Gerrit of UCLA, SVG) who takes positions that are completely at odds with the scientific consensus. (According to Gerrit, it has not been proven that animals suffer more when cut with a knife without anesthetic) This is an expert who is not a veterinarian, he has not studied this, and comes to give his personal opinion.

How does this glitch happen in sessions?

straight: is the imbalance of power in Parliament. If the largest party in Parliament (PS, SVG) is firmly against the ban, it translates to hearings.

There is also considerable opposition to the ban on slaughter without astonishment among Muslims and Jews, as well as among economic sectors, and even among constitutional specialists. Can you understand that?

straight: When it comes to religious communities, you see something very amazing. In the wings they can understand the questions raised by the ritual slaughter. You see that they are making holes to find a solution to the suffering of the animals. Even those who interpret the Bible very accurately. But they will not repeat this audience.

We see it in the Ipsos poll: Muslims are not at all in agreement on the drug of slaughter.

A petition against the ban on non-stunning slaughter collected 127,000 signatures.

straight: The petition is worded in very general terms and does not explain well what is at stake. It makes sense that it would be widely shared.

A deputy from Forot stated in Parliament that he does not believe that animals slaughtered ritually suffer, “because God will never allow such suffering.” Doesn’t that say a lot about how the issue is viewed?

straight: This has nothing to do with the rational discussion anymore. This belongs more to magical thinking. This is problematic.

Look, I understand, of course, that some Jews and Muslims have heard all their lives: this is tradition, there is no deviation from it. Indeed, it is true that the teachings of slaughter, in biblical times, were indeed revolutionary: because they reduced animal suffering, and ensured greater hygiene. But today we are today.

What is the basis of animal rights for you?

straight: Science. He showed us that animals have consciousness, feelings, and feel pain or fears. That they have their own interests and needs. From the moment you begin to realize that we are also animals, and that you can at most talk about human and inhuman animals, then only one moral criterion remains: that suffering should be as small as possible.

Today it is dealt with religious communities, but hunters and fishermen are untouched. Shouldn’t animal suffering be tackled all at once?

straight: Hunting is banned in Brussels, and hunting still happens every now and then, but I still address the environment minister about it, asking when sport fishing will be banned. And I heard there are new regulations on the way for this.

Isn’t it also hypocritical to support a ban on electrocution, while at the same time condoning the suffering of animals in the agricultural industry?

straight: agree. The best way to end animal suffering is to have no more meat on the plate. I will say more: it is paradoxical to talk about animal welfare when it comes to slaughter. That does not make sense. Killing an animal is always violent.

But here it comes to him scale down animal suffering. And so the debate about a slaughter ban remains unanswered. What we ask is the bare minimum.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the Environment Committee will either approve or reject the ban on non-stun slaughter. You are not a member of that committee but what do you expect?

straight: I have two concerns. Les Engagés (formerly CDH) agreed to a statement at a National Party conference a few weeks ago, stating that slaughter without electrocution should be banned. I hear in the corridors that the Brussels members of Les Engages will not respect that. This is incomprehensible.

and two. Ecolo has always said MPs are free to vote, but in the committee they will not vote for a ban and will abstain.

what does that mean?

straight: that the law may not obtain a majority in this way. A complete procedure would be required to submit the decree to a vote in the plenary, and to approve it.

But the representatives should not be under any illusions. If it is not approved now, it will be on their plate again in the next legislature. They will continue to drag this one, having been dragging it for years now. Election after the election. Society no longer accepts that animals suffer needlessly.

Animal welfare has figured fairly prominently on Parliament’s agenda this year. Has the Brussels region made progress?

straight: It’s tough. Minister Bernard Clairvet (Davey) has announced a new animal welfare law since the beginning of his tenure. Every suggestion or question bounces about it. Because it was always a matter of the new law. We have to wait for that. But where are we today? The government is looking for an outside advisor to develop the code. It’s been two years since the end of the Legislative Council and we still don’t know who will put that code into place. Not to mention that Parliament can consider it. So we haven’t gotten anywhere yet.

Brussels recently decided to ban dolphins. Courtesy, but that sounds a little funny if there are no dolphins.

straight: It is already symbolic. But don’t underestimate the letter to Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Waits (N-VA) who doesn’t want to hear about a dolphin ban. This is what Brussels says clearly: Dolphin farming is an unethical business.

There is also a ban on the use of glue traps to catch rodents. But Minister Clairvet refuses to limit the sale himself. So you can still find glue traps in the store. Clerfayt uses the argument that sales bans should be federally regulated, but we are well aware that regions are allowed to color outside the lines if this contributes to the action being taken. They are the so-called “implicit powers”. So Clairevet could already issue a ban on the sale of glue traps.

The decree of your hand was also approved unanimously. This is for someone from the opposition who doesn’t even have a faction. Does that give you the feeling that you can move a stone?

straight: yes. We were surprised ourselves. It is about the ban on catching and killing pigeons in the city. We may have had the advantage that it concerned both Environment Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) and Animal Welfare Minister Clairvet. So he kind of fell between two chairs. We have benefited from that.

Something similar is letting dogs run free in the parks or in the Sonian Forest. The animal rights activist might argue that it is a good idea for dogs to let them roam freely. But at the same time it threatens nature. How do you feel about it?

straight: You always have to weigh interests in politics. Deer populations are under threat in the Sonian Forest, so it seems logical to me that separate areas for dogs should be set up to allow them to roam.

You are no longer a member of DierAnimal, the list on which you were elected in 2019. You never told what happened?

straight: Right. I will not do now. I am still in regular contact with people from DierAnimal and I want an organization that fights for the interests of animals, so Important Fight, do not point your finger.

What will you do in 2024?

straight: This is the million dollar question. When I entered Parliament, I felt that my work would enable me to make great strides in legislative work. But I’m back a bit from a barren trek. It’s all very slow, and there are political blocs. Legislative proposals are in danger of being forgotten. This is frustrating.

But apart from that, I want to become a candidate again. She has managed to get things moving, and animal welfare is now definitely on the agenda. It is taken very seriously. That’s new.

I just have to find a political group that agrees to fight for animal rights, the environment and the climate – on that list. I am not there yet.

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