(JTA) — Britain’s right-wing UKIP party has come out in support of legislation that would ban the production of ritually slaughtered meat.
The United Kingdom Independence Party became the first major political party in the country to call for a ban on religious slaughter for halal and kosher meat.
“Animal and veterinary science has long concluded that cutting the throats of animals whilst they are fully conscious can cause significant distress and pain,” a UKIP statement sent to the media said. Stunning before slaughter must occur as it is “fully compatible with all world religions,” the text also said.
Jewish religious law, or halachah, requires that animals be conscious when they are slaughtered – a principle that is accepted by the major denominations of Judaism in certifying food as kosher. A similar requirement exists in Islam, though it is less strictly observed, according to some accounts.
Many Jewish professional slaughterers and rabbis claim that kosher slaughter, or shechitah, is as quick, painless and compassionate as any other method used in Western commercial slaughterhouses.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed several times to ensure ritual slaughter remains legal in Britain out of respect for religious groups that require it.
UKIP’s statement said, “We find the government response to this issue is weak, lazy and bordering on spineless.” It added, “We find the rights and demands of groups within those religions override the UK’s compassionate traditions of animal welfare.”
At least one senior representative of UKIP, European Parliament member Stuart Agnew, opposed the policy announcement, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
Shimon Cohen, an adviser to Britain’s Jewish communities on how to defend the practice and campaign director for the Shechita UK not-for-profit, said UKIP’s new position is based on “weak, agenda-driven science” as well as “an opportunistic and a disappointing shift” that “returned UKIP to the fringes of mainstream politics.”