This little piggy went to COURT! Piglets ‘SUE’ over castration in ‘human rights’ case in Germany
- PETA has filed a lawsuit with Germany’s Germany’s Constitutional Court for pigs
- Farmers argue castration of piglets after birth necessary to prevent ‘boar taint’
- In 2013 the German parliament outlawed castration without aneasthetic relief
- However timeline was extended last year until 2021 causing outrage by activists
Farmers argue that the castration of piglets a few days after birth is necessary to prevent ‘boar taint’
Animal rights campaigners acting on behalf of piglets are calling for castration without anaesthetic to be banned.
In a legal first, the PETA campaign group has filed a lawsuit with Germany’s Germany’s Constitutional Court to ban the painful procedure.
And the piglets themselves have been listed as the ones suing over the ‘violation’ of their rights.
Castration has become increasingly controversial in Europe and has been banned in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
But farmers argue that the castration of piglets a few days after birth is necessary to prevent ‘boar taint’, the occasional occurrence of a foul smell when cooking pork from male pigs past puberty.
In 2013 the German parliament outlawed castration without pain relief but offered farmers a five-year transition period to help them adapt to the change.
PETA wear animal masks as they demonstrate in front of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, southern Germany, where activists filed a constitutional complaint against the castration of male pigs without painkillers
However the timeline was extended last year until 2021 causing outrage by activists leading to them filing the lawsuit in November on behalf of the baby pigs.
The group wants judges to recognise that pigs have rights similar to human rights and that these are being violated by the ‘cruel act’ of castration without pain relief.
The group wants judges to recognise that pigs have rights similar to human rights and that these are being violated by the ‘cruel act’ of castration without pain relief
‘Non-human entities like companies and associations have legal personhood. So why not animals too?’ said lawyer Cornelia Ziehm, who is supporting PETA in representing the piglets in court.
PETA argues that under German law, animals cannot be harmed without reasonable explanation.
‘The castration of piglets, with or without anaesthesia, is in clear violation of this, giving Germany’s male piglets only one option: to sue for the enforcement of their rights in court,’ the group said in a statement.
Activists argue that in Germany ‘everyone’ can file a constitutional complaint if they believe their basic rights have been violated even a pig.
But Jens Buelte, a law professor at Mannheim university, doubted whether the judges in Karlsruhe would see it the same way.
‘Animals do not have their own rights under German law,’ he said, giving PETA’s lawsuit ‘little chance of succeeding’.
It is not the first time campaign groups have filed a case on behalf of animals.
PETA made headlines in 2015 when it asked an American court to grant a macaque the copyright to a selfie it snapped on a wildlife photographer’s camera.
The picture of the broadly grinning monkey went viral but the court eventually ruled that animals cannot bring copyright infringement suits.
PETA condemned the verdict, saying the monkey was ‘discriminated against simply because he’s a nonhuman animal’.
German farmers, who remove testicles from roughly 20 million piglets each year, have long resisted the push to end castration without anaesthesia.
They say there is a lack of workable alternatives to tackle boar taint, in an industry already struggling with fierce foreign competition.
Local anaesthesia and gene editing are not yet viable or too expensive, they say, and would raise the cost of pork in a country famous for its love of schnitzel and sausage.
The government agreed in late 2018 to give the farmers a final two-year extension before the ban takes effect.
A decision condemned by the opposition Greens and far-left Die Linke, who argued it put the interests of the meat industry above animal protection.
Some German pork producers are pinning their hopes on a vaccine that requires just two injections to prevent boar taint which has already proved a popular alternative abroad.
A pilot project involving 100,000 German piglets is currently ongoing, though critics say the vaccines are costly too.
A similar debate is raging in France, where agriculture minister Didier Guillaume recently said castration of piglets without pain relief should be banned by the end of 2021.
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