The parliament of Belgium’s northern Flanders, or Flemish, region has unanimously passed a resolution banning ritual slaughter without stunning.
The decision will go into effect beginning in 2019.
The resolution was passed last week, and 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. Slaughter of cows and calves will be exempt, European Jewish News reported, until a better stunning technique is developed for them.
The threat to ban ritual slaughter without stunning has been circulating in Belgium for many years.
Shehitah, 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 the Flemish region. The remaining 20,000 live in the Brussels region. Kosher slaughter houses in Antwerp, the capital of the Flemish Region, provide meat to many Jewish communities in Europe.