Lithuanian lawmakers advance bid to keep ritual slaughter legal

(JTA) — The Lithuanian parliament passed a draft amendment aimed at preventing the outlawing of kosher slaughter.

The amendment submitted by Vytautas Gapsys of the Labor party would benefit the “export of meat to Israel and Arab countries, which are new opportunities,” Gapsys told the news website obzor.lt on Tuesday.

Fifty-one lawmakers in the 141-seat parliament voted in favor of the motion on kosher slaughter, or shechitah, and two against, with seven abstentions.

“There are certain requirements that are put forward, and the animals must be slaughtered while conscious, according to certain religious beliefs,” he added.

Muslim and Jewish religious laws require animals to be conscious at the time of their slaughter — a practice that is forbidden in seven European countries and deemed cruel by some animal rights activists.

The Lithuania amendment comes months after a court ruling on ritual slaughter in Poland paralyzed the country’s $500 million export industry of kosher and halal meat, which had been allowed to operate based on a government regulation from 2004. Ritual slaughter became illegal in Poland in January.

Lithuania currently allows religious slaughter without prior stunning, as required by Muslim and Jewish religious laws, under certain conditions.

“We have not seen limitations imposed and we are pleased with that,” said Faina Kulkiansky of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.

The Conference of European Rabbis welcomed the draft resolution.

“We urge the Polish Government to take note and we will continue to work with other countries urging them to follow Lithuania and introduce similar legislation,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the group’s president, said in a statement.

 

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