MPs approve resolutions on animal welfare and public toilets

In its final session before the elections, the Flemish Parliament has approved a number of motions on issues including animal welfare, accessible public toilets and support for victims of sexual abuse in the Church.

The animal welfare codex brings together existing and new rules: they include banning animal markets and home slaughter of certain animals, and alternative penalties, such as mandatory education and counselling, for people who cause animal suffering.

Chicken cages must be replaced by free-range aviary systems, animals caught in the wild may not be kept, and every police zone must have an employee designated as responsible for animal welfare. Organisers of folk customs that involve animals must also abide by the rules. “If traditions cause animal suffering, then we must adapt those traditions,” said Animal Welfare minister Ben Weyts. 

Easier access

The parliament also unanimously agreed a resolution on accessible public toilets. For some time, Christian democrat MP Katrien Schryvers has been calling for an increase in the number of well-maintained, publicly accessible toilets in Flanders and for information about them to be more widely publicised. 

For groups including people with certain health conditions, senior citizens or parents with small children, the unavailability of a clean, accessible toilet can be an obstacle to daily life. 

The concept of a toilet pass, to be introduced no later than summer 2025, has also been approved. This would give people with conditions such as Crohn’s disease easier and more discreet access to toilets in shops, hotels, cafés and restaurants. 

Centralised support

There was also unanimous approval of the 101 recommendations of the special committee on sexual abuse in the Church. Among other things, the committee calls for the creation of a fund to give all victims of sexual violence access to psychological care. The Church should contribute financially and, with the federal level, Flanders will look at the possibility of obliging perpetrators of sexual crimes to make a financial contribution.

The committee also calls for a centralised support point to guide victims through the fragmented support system, and for new apologies to victims of historical sexual violence.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO DAVID PINTENS

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