Lithuanian parliament OKs ritual slaughter


(JTA) —  The parliament in Lithuania passed a law permitting ritual slaughter in the country, spurring a protest by animal rights activists.

The measure passed Tuesday stipulates that animals can be killed by slitting their throat without first being stunned — a requirement in religious Jewish law and by observant Muslims — the Baltic News Service reported.

Brigita Kymantaite, leader of the Lithuanian Animals Rights Protection Organization, said her organization would motion the European Commission “to clarify whether the provision is in line with European laws.”

The vote passed in parliament with a majority of 57 lawmakers in favor, four against and 11 abstaining, the RTL broadcaster reported.

A draft for the bill was passed by a large majority last year, 10 months after a ruling by the constitutional court of neighboring Poland outlawed ritual slaughter there in a move that paralyzed the country’s for-export industry of kosher and halal meat.

The ruling was made on a motion filed by animal rights activists who argued a government regulation from 2004 that allowed halal and kosher slaughter, or shechitah, was illegal.

Faina Kukliansky, the chairwoman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, welcomed the new law’s passage.

“I can only welcome the step and express the gratitude of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,” she told the Baltic News Service. “I believe I can thank parliament also on behalf of Jewish communities in Europe.”

Shechitah is banned in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland and Iceland.

European regulations say animals should be stunned prior to slaughter but allow individual countries to determine exceptions to the rule as necessary.

Recommended from JTA