“The law provides that slaughter of farm animals without prior stunning by methods necessary for religious rites, if these animals are slaughtered in a slaughterhouse, will not be considered cruelty to animals or their torture,” the parliament said in a statement.
The bill aims at “solving the current problem of export of meat and meat products and… finding alternative markets. According to the authors of the amendments, Muslim countries are among the soundest and most viable markets,” the statement said.
The new legislation, which was passed by a majority of 57 to four, with 11 abstentions, is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2015. Meanwhile, it has been praised by the Jewish Community of Lithuania (LZB).
“I can only welcome the step and thank for it on behalf of the Lithuanian Jewish Community,” Faina Kukliansky, chair of the LZB, told local news agency BNS. “I am not only a representative of the Jewish community, but also a citizen of Lithuania, and I am happy that Lithuanian farmers will now be able to find new markets. It is a very good and wise step for Lithuania’s economy.”
The latest decision comes more than a year after the parliament of neighbouring Poland rejected a bill that would have legalised slaughter without stunning. Religious slaughter was ruled unconstitutional and in violation of the Polish animal rights legislation by the country’s Constitutional Court (TK) in November 2012.
Since then, representatives of the country’s meat industry, religious communities and a number of politicians from the co-ruling Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL), including Polish Minister of Agriculture Marek Sawicki, have called for scrapping the ban. Its opponents say this will ensure religious freedom, protect workplaces and contribute to the country’s economic development.