Public move to ban fur farms rebuffed at Saeima

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The Saeima rejected a public initiative to ban fur farms in Latvia after hearing objecting opinions from representatives of the Agriculture, Economics, Environmental Protection and Regional Development ministries, Veterinarians’ Association and Fur Breeders’ Association at Thursday’s regular plenary session.

About 50 demonstrators gathered outside the Saeima building as deputies arrived for their plenary session, some with taped-up mouths to symbolize that the politicians haven’t heard the people, others dressed in animal costumes inside cages.

“Saeima members may still possibly need to get used to the fact that animal rights are a legitimate public interest and public policy issue that one shouldn’t treat lightly. We are not so poor as to have to sell our consciences,” a demonstrator from an NGO called “Animal Freedom” told LSM.

Though upheld previously by the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee based on the more than 10,000 signatures collected by the online petition portal, the initiative received a ‘no’ vote from 60 deputies.

Up until now the animal rights groups had used logical arguments in their fight against the fur farms in Latvia’s regions. Along with some public demonstrations and social media campaigns, awareness was raised about the initiative and the 10,000 signatures collected. But, as NGO representative Aivars Andersons admitted, these democratic measures did not achieve the necessary support.

Andersons pointed out that Saeima heard the issue just for the sake of getting it off the agenda without even considering the essence of the case. The organization maintains the public interest was completely ignored today.

On his part, MP Ainars Latkovskis of the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee urged the protesters to look more towards cooperating with the fur farms so that proper observance of humane animal treatment can be achieved throughout the sector.

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