Religious slaughter still banned in 2 Belgium provinces, top EU human rights court rules

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejects petition filed by Jewish, Muslim communities in Belgium against the ban on kosher and halal slaughter in Wallonia and Flanders provinces, rules that ban does not infringe on religious freedom

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France unanimously ruled that the ban on kosher or halal slaughter in the Wallonia and Flanders provinces in Belgium does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision follows a legal challenge by Belgian citizens and organizations representing Muslim and Jewish communities who argued that the provinces' rules prohibiting the religious slaughter of animals violated their freedom of religion.
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The court justified its ruling, saying that "the protection of public morals could not be understood as being intended solely to protect human dignity in the sphere of interpersonal relations," and that the ban is "proportional to the aim pursued, namely the protection of animal welfare as an element of 'public morals.'"
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EU Human Rights Court upholds ban on religious slaughter of animals
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In 2022, the Belgian Parliament voted against the bill to ban religious slaughter. Of the 89 Parliamemt members, 88 lawmakers participated in the dramatic vote, with 42 voting against and 38 voting in favor of the ban. Wallonia and Flanders are the only two provinces in Belgium that ban religious slaughter. Jewish communities were outraged when the ban was backed by the Belgian Parliament, and the European Court approved the ban on kosher slaughter in these districts.
"This is a black day for Europe. The European Court for Human Rights has decided that animal rights are more important than human rights. The decision of the Strasbourg Court is disappointing but not unexpected," the president of the Conference of Rabbis of Europe (CER), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said.
The CER consistently opposed joining in an action at the European Court for Human Rights. 'What should have been left as a self-inflicted wound on the Belgian community should never have been brought to Strasbourg. The Jewish and Muslim communities of Europe will continue to fight for religious freedoms and equality in Europe. That task is now made all the harder," he added.
פנחס גולדשמיטRabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt
The European Jewish Association (EJA) "learned with deep shock" of the ruling of the Human Rights Court "against the religious rights of Jews and Muslims." The organization sent a letter "calling on governments and parliaments to enact the laws that commit to maintaining the freedom of religion and worship of the continent’s citizens, including kosher and Halal slaughter."
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the EJA, said that "the implied determination of the distorted verdict is that the rights of these citizens to freedom of religion and worship are even less than that of animals."
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