Scots fight attempt to ban shechitah

By Leon Symons, August 7, 2008

A petition to ban shechitah - religious slaughter - in Scotland has been vigorously opposed by Scottish communal organisations.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) has sent an extensive rebuttal to the Scottish Parliament setting out in detail how effective shechitah is compared with the pre-stunning of animals.

It also deals with the potential effects of a ban on the Jewish community, even though shechitah is not currently carried out in Scotland, as well as scientific evidence on other methods of slaughter and the issue of suffering.

The move for a ban has been made under a system in Scotland where the public can petition the Scottish Parliament directly. This petition has been sent by Josey Rowan, leader of the Scottish Independence Party.

In the 2005 general election, Mr Rowan contested the Airdrie and Shotts constituency and polled 337 votes, only one per cent of the total cast there. His petition, which had collected 95 signatures when it closed, is to be discussed on September 9.

Leah Granat, spokesman for SCoJeC, said: "The petitions committee could invite more evidence or refer it to another committee. But we hope they will simply close it.

"We have developed a very good relationship with the Scottish government and parliament. In January we briefed Richard Lochhead, the Secretary for rural affairs and the environment, on a question concerning the pre-stunning and export of sheep, when he reiterated that slaughter without pre-stunning was legal throughout the EU."

In his petition, Mr Rowan, who did not respond to requests for comment, said that a number of European countries had banned religious slaughter. This ban was supported by a number of bodies, including the Farm Animal Welfare Council, whose recommendation to ban shechitah elsewhere in the UK was thrown out by Westminster.

Last updated: 2:54pm, July 13 2009