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500,000 sign petition for French vote on animal cruelty

The petition is also supported by over 100 animal welfare organisations and influential French personalities. More signatures and parliamentary support are needed for the issues to go to referendum.

The online petition, found at Référendum Pour les Animaux, reached over half a million signatures yesterday (August 17) almost seven weeks after it was launched on July 2.

Christophe Mairie, spokesperson for animal rights organisation the Fondation Bardot, hailed the results as a success. He told news source the HuffPost: “It’s terrific! We rarely manage to gather 500,000 signatures for our petitions.”

 The petition calls for a referendum on six animal welfare measures in France, including: 

  • Ending intensive farming 
  • Stopping animals being farmed living in cages
  • Banning recreational hunting
  • Banning shows featuring wild animals
  • Ending animal testing 
  • Banning fur farming

More signatures and parliamentary support needed

The organisers of the petition hope to bring their proposed animal welfare laws to referendum using the Référendum d’Initiative Partagée (RIP) procedure.

The RIP procedure allows proposed laws to be decided by referendum if they are supported by at least one-fifth of parliamentary members and 10% of people on the French electoral register.

In practice, this means the petition would need the support of 185 members of parliament and 4.7 million signatures before the measures suggested could go to a national vote and potentially become law.

Widespread public support

After the petition was launched, a poll conducted for dog-owners website Caniprof by IFOP indicated widespread public support for the measures put forward.

All of the six proposals received strong support among those surveyed, with 87% in favour of farm animals having daily access to fresh air and 75% supporting a ban on animal testing. 

The poll also found that 73% of those questioned supported the idea of holding a national referendum on animal rights in France.

Focus now on members of parliament

Journalist Hugo Clément, who launched the online petition, said: “The fight is now focused on the obstacle [of obtaining the support of] 185 members of parliament.

“From now until September we will be more aggressive, we will go and find them one by one to ask them if they want to support our project.”

Billionaire Xavier Niel, one of three influential French businessmen who support the campaign, hopes they will succeed in convincing politicians “by the beginning of September” so they can begin “transforming support from citizens into a formal solution.”

However, Marc Simoncini, another of the three businessmen, is more concerned with raising the number of public signatures. He said: “We are at half a million. We need 10 times more. Our work is to convince everyone who has signed to convince three people around them. 

"We will use our networks in a powerful way. It’s the beginning of a movement that’s moving forward and will go far beyond.” 

Related stories

France needs minister for animal welfare, say rights groups

Marseille may ban circus animals after rhino video emerges

End animal cruelty and abandonment in France, says MP report

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