A constitutional court in Belgium ruled on Wednesday that traditional Jewish shechita is permitted under Belgian law and will be allowed to continue unimpeded.
“Restrictions on kosher shechita”, the judge ruled, “contradict basic human rights laws and religious rights in Belgium.”
In recent months some members of the Flemish parliament have proposed bans on kosher shechita, prohibiting exceptions to a Belgian law requiring animals be stunned before being slaughters. Such a move would effectively outlaw kosher shechita, which cannot be performed while an animal is stunned.
Rabbi Avraham Gigi, Chief Rabbi of Belgium and a member of the Conference of European Rabbis, responded to the court’s decision.
“I’m happy that our position has been accepted and the decision will end attempts to block exceptions [allowing] kosher shechita under Belgian law. I think the ruling is important in the sense that it sends a message to other European countries who may also be pursuing bans on kosher shechita.”
Rabbi Gigi recalled similar attempts to pass legislation outlawing kosher shechita a decade ago, noting that legislators were told by a constitutional court at the time that such restrictions violated human rights and religious freedom.
“Also this time, when we felt there was a danger of legislation being passed that would limit kosher shechita we turned to the constitutional court to issue an order blocking the Flemish parliament. We’re happy that wisdom prevailed and Belgium will permit kosher shechita to continue, in accordance with our age-old traditions.”