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Defra publishes response to religious slaughter consultation

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published its response to the 2012 consultation on the protection of animals at the time of killing. The Government will not remove the exemption from animal welfare law that permits religious communities to slaughter animals without pre-stunning. The British Humanist Association (BHA) responded to the consultation calling for a ban to all religious slaughter without stunning and are disappointed with the response.

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘It is a reasonable ask for the law covering the welfare of animals at time of slaughter to be humane and aim to reduce as far as possible the pain, suffering and distress of the animal. The exemptions afforded to religious groups to allow for slaughter of animals without pre-stunning undoubtedly contradicts that principle so we are disappointed with the Defra response. We have always supported the recommendations of the Farm Animal Welfare Council that slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and that the Government should repeal the current exemption.

‘There is no reason why this Government cannot work with the religious communities concerned to seek ways of slaughtering animals in accordance with religious rules but that require that animals are properly stunned before they are slaughtered so as to minimise pain and distress. Bans on slaughter without pre-stunning have worked well in other countries without harming religious freedoms or community relations.’


For further comment or information, contact Pavan Dhaliwal at or 0207 079 3585

Read our response to the Defra consultation:

Read Defra’s response to the consultation:

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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