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Law Recognising Animals As ‘Sentient Beings’ Approved In Spain

Hannah Blackiston


Law Recognising Animals As ‘Sentient Beings’ Approved In Spain

A new law has been approved in Spain that will recognise animals as 'sentient beings', not objects.

The legislation, which was approved by all parties aside from the far-right Vox party, will cover pets and wild species, and will require the Spanish Civil Code to be amended.

The legislation has been passed by Spain's lower house, the Congress of Deputies.

Cultura RM / Alamy Stock Photo
Cultura RM / Alamy Stock Photo

The change means animals will now have a different legal standing to inanimate objects and their emotional needs, wellbeing and protection will need to be taken into account in various situations.

Animals already had these rights in European law, regional administrative laws and under Spain's Criminal Code, but the changes will impact the Civil Code, Mortgage Law and Civil Procedure Law.

The changes impact laws around property, family and obligations, giving lawyers more legal grounds to address certain problems.

This means in situations including divorce or separation, animals will not be able to be separated from their owners without their needs being taken into account and that will also need to be a factor in the case of them being seized or abandoned.

Mint Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo
Mint Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

The legislation says the changes reflect the 'true nature of animals' and the relationship between 'them and humans'.

The only exclusion in the changes are 'animals placed or destined in a farm dedicated to livestock, industrial or recreational exploitation'.

Animal protection legal organisation, INTERcids, said the changes were a step in the right direction.

"It's a step forward and it says that in separations and divorces, the arrangement that will be applied to the animals will take into account not only the interests of the humans, but also of the animal," explained María González Lacabex.

The law was proposed in 2017 but two general elections in 2019 delayed the approval process.

 Prostock-studio / Alamy Stock Photo
Prostock-studio / Alamy Stock Photo

In April this year, the initiative appeared before Congress and was supported by all parties aside from Vox.

The law then went through the upper house and the Senate before being approved by Congress last week.

Guillermo Díaz, from the centre-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens), was one of the backers of the law.

"We are the only species that recognizes the suffering of others and as such we have an obligation to prevent that suffering," he said, explaining that up until now, "animals were not considered different from a television" in divorce cases.

In opposition to the law, Vox's Ángel López Maraver, a former president of the Spanish Hunting Federation, called it 'insanity, nonsense, stupidity' and said it 'dehumanised man' by humanising animals.

Featured Image Credit: david moreno / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Spain, Animals

Hannah Blackiston
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