On the legal recognition of animals as sentient beings
The European Union first recognised animal sentience in 1997 in the Treaty of Amsterdam. It was recognised by New Zealand in 2015 in its Animal Welfare Act, and by Quebec in a 2015 amendment to its Civil Code. Just last year, the UK parliament put up a bill recognizing the sentience of all vertebrates in its future legislation. The scope of its Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill was last month extended to recognise lobsters, octopus and crabs. Perhaps a salute to the beautiful documentary My Octopus Teacher. The international organisation World Animal Protection views animal sentience recognition as so important it’s the first indicator in its Animal Protection Index, which ranks countries on the basis of their legal and policy commitments to animals. The world including the science world has been slow to catch up with the obvious on this topic - that animals have feelings just like us. Now that it has, there must be an avalanche of legislation in all countries to respect this fact, every time we make a law in the future. Vote yes to this idea. Next time you look an animal in the eye, it might just give you a wink.