Shechita UK Campaign Update
Speculation for our future outside of the European Union has dominated conversation for the last few months. Whilst we will all be affected individually, it is also important that we contemplate the consequences for the community and particularly the future of Shechita.
The legislation that ensures we can continue to prepare our meat in our time honoured fashion is based in the EU. It took years to draft and respects the views of animal welfarists whilst also protecting our religious rights. Every regulation has taken our community’s position into account. Recent UK regulations simply gold plated what Europe put in place. Much will now need to be rewritten and relationships we have built in Westminster will now be crucial.
The current Conservative government has an iron clad manifesto pledge supporting Shechita and by securing Prime Ministerial commitments we have guaranteed that the matter of Shechita was always been dealt with at ministerial and government level and not on the floor of Parliament.
The strength of the animal welfare lobby is immense but they have failed in attempts to limit or ban Shechita because it has always been an issue ultimately governed at European level. Furthermore, with solid animal welfare arguments on our side, we have often exposed anti Shechita sentiment as racist, mostly directed at the Muslim community.
Now we are leaving the EU, the government may have to prepare a new bill, which will, of course, have to be put through Parliament. When this happened in the 1930s the Jewish community secured an exemption from the law requiring mechanical stunning, in the main, because the small quantity of kosher meat being produced was solely for the benefit of Jews and the legislation was designed to improve animal welfare and as such was not relevant to us.
Now, the Government saying ‘you have my support’ –is no longer the assurance it once was, as Parliament will debate and decide.
On related issues such as the labelling of kosher meat for the wider market and industry standards, the EU has taken the lead. A recent study into labelling showed no appetite to take the issue forward in all member states and the EU recommended no action. The UK Government supported the EU position. We will monitor the next steps with great interest and work with decision makers to ensure our position is heard.
The future will be challenging but Shechita UK will continue to fight to make sure that we are able to practice our religious freedoms in a safe, secure and welcome environment. But things will not be easy and we will need to rely on our community’s support. Wishing you all a Shana Tova.