A leading charity working on behalf of non-religious people has called on Ministers to make non-stun halal and kosher slaughter illegal.
Humanists UK encouraged its supporters to make the demand in their responses to the Government’s consultation on the draft Animal Welfare Bill.
The Bill was introduced amid huge public outcry after Conservative MPs were whipped to vote against an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would have forced the Government to pay regard to animal welfare in formulating policy.
Under current UK law, owners of animals are responsible for their welfare, but there is no duty on the state to consider animal welfare in policy making.
Before the Bill was published, Tory MP Zac Goldsmith warned it would need to contain ‘14 or 15 things’ to stop the Government being humiliated on issues such as non-stun slaughter and live exports, but when the 2-page Bill was released, it only covered animal sentience and longer sentences for animal cruelty.
Humanists UK campaigns officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan said: “The current legal approach to religious slaughter is incoherent.
“There is a well-established consensus, reflected in our laws on slaughter, animal cruelty and hunting that there is a collective standard of welfare applied to animals, below which it is both a crime and a cruelty to subject them to.
“Those laws make pre-stunning a requirement before slaughter because it is deemed to be part of the needs of the animal, placing its welfare as prime consideration.
“This consideration does not change for an animal subjected to religious slaughter. In terms of the suffering experienced by the animal at the point of non-stunned slaughter, there is no qualitative or quantitative difference if it is carried out by someone with specific religious convictions or not. The exceptions from this standard cannot be justified.
“This Bill is a rare opportunity for the Government to rationalise this incoherent approach to animal welfare, by clearly defining pre-stunning as a welfare need.”