The Belgian Constitutional Court upholds the ban on slaughter without stunning in Flanders and Wallonia


The Belgian Constitutional Court upholds the ban on slaughter without stunning in Flanders and Wallonia

30 September 2021

Today, the Belgian Constitutional Court supported the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) on the ban on animal slaughter without stunning.

Following a lengthy legal battle, last December the CJEU clearly concluded, in response to the preliminary questions by the Belgian Constitutional Court, that Member States are allowed to impose mandatory pre-slaughter stunning. With this ruling, the Belgian Constitutional Court also confirms the legality of the ban in Flanders and Wallonia.

Eurogroup for Animals member GAIA has been leading the campaign for a ban on ritual slaughter without stunning in Belgium for over 25 years. In 2014, 10,000 people marched in Brussels asking for a ban. Finally, in 2017 the Walloon and Flemish decrees prohibited the slaughter of animals without stunning. The bans came into force in 2019 for both regions but were then challenged by several religious organisations on the grounds of freedom of religion. 

The CJEU judgment considered the latest development on reversible stunning as a method that successfully balances the apparently competing values of religious freedom and animal welfare, and it concluded that “the measures contained in the (Flemish) decree allow a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion”.

This brings to an end a lengthy legal battle in favor of the Flemish and Walloon ban, the sole purpose of which is to avoid inflicting scientifically proven and practically avoidable suffering during the killing of animals, with no exception for slaughter carried out in a religious context

commented Michel Vandenbosch, GAIA's President

To date, the Brussels-Capital Region still permits slaughter without stunning and that’s going to be the next step for GAIA:

Now that the Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of the Flemish and Walloon bans, there is no longer any valid reason to not introduce a total ban in the Brussels-Capital Region too. GAIA urges the Brussels government and parliament to introduce such a ban without further delay

added Vandenbosch.

We congratulate GAIA for their relentless efforts on these bans. Last December we celebrated together an important victory for the animals and we have more reason today to salute the Constitutional Court’s  confirmation. It’s now time for the EU to make it mandatory in the next revision of the Slaughter Regulation

added Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.




Animal welfare victory: the CJEU ruling confirms Member States right to introduce mandatory pre-slaughter stunning
Position Paper Slaughter without stunning 
Opinion poll on slaughter 
Summary of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) case C-336/19
Amicus Curiae on CJEU case
EFSA reiterates that slaughter without stunning should not be practiced


Press contact

Agnese Marcon, Communications Manager, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038

Eurogroup for Animals represents 81 animal protection organisations in 24 EU Member States, the UK, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the US. Since its foundation in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its members and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal protection. 

GAIA (Action Group in the Interest of Animals) unites defenders of animal welfare and advocates for animal rights in Belgium. We believe animals should be treated with respect and deserve a decent life. We work towards building a human–animal relationship of humanity and justice.