Flanders’ ban on halal and kosher slaughter should be overturned because it does not comply with EU law, an advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union said today.
The Belgian region voted to outlaw slaughter without stunning in 2017, citing animal welfare concerns, but Muslim and Jewish groups — whose religions proscribe animal stunning — took the battle to the courts.
The exemption in EU law from the requirement to stun animals for religious reasons “must be respected,” Advocate General Gerard Hogan said in a nonbinding opinion that precedes a full ruling by the court.
“This is necessary in order to protect animals to the greatest degree possible at the time of killing while at the same time ensuring observance of the freedom of religion and deeply held religious beliefs,” he wrote.
Hogan said EU countries are permitted to tighten the rules on animal welfare — but only “if the ‘core’ of the religious practice in question, namely ritual slaughter, is not encroached upon.”
The Wallonia region of Belgium followed Flanders and implemented a ban on religious slaughter last year.
Hogan also said it would contravene EU animal welfare laws if non-Muslim and non-Jewish consumers were to find themselves unwittingly eating meat from non-stunned animals.