Belgium Region Approves Ban On Ritual Slaughter

(JTA) — The parliament in the Belgian region of Flanders unanimously passed a resolution last week banning ritual slaughter without stunning.

The decision will go into effect beginning in 2019.

The resolution follows a similar decision approved in May by the Walloon Parliament in southern Belgium, Belgium’s largest region, which is home to just a few hundred Jews. That legislation takes effect in September 2019.

The threat to ban ritual slaughter without stunning has been circulating in Belgium for many years.

Shechitah, the ritual method of slaughtering animals, requires they be conscious when their throats are slit — a practice that critics say is cruel but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanized methods used in non-kosher abattoirs. Muslims slaughter animals in a similar method, albeit with fewer restrictions, to produce halal meat.

Half of Belgium’s Jewish population of 40,000 people live in Flanders. The remaining 20,000 live in the Brussels region. Kosher slaughterhouses in Antwerp, the capital of Flanders, provide meat to many Jewish communities in Europe.