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Message started by Nigel on Jun 27th, 2008 at 8:07am

Title: Spain Set To Give Human Rights To Apes
Post by Nigel on Jun 27th, 2008 at 8:07am
Spain's parliament is set to approve a new law giving the right to life and freedom to apes.

If passed, the new legislation would make it illegal to keep apes for use in animal experiments, circuses, television commercials and filming.

It is thought to be the first time any national parliament has called for such rights for non-humans.

The move would be all the more surprising given longstanding criticism of Spain by animal rights groups over the treatment of bulls and donkeys.

The Spanish parliament's environmental committee has now approved resolutions to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.

Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project, said: "This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defence of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity."

The legislation would represent the latest step towards a liberal society for a country traditionally seen as having conservative values.

Spain did not legalise divorce until the 1980s, but Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalised gay marriage, reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an Equality Ministry.

The new resolutions have cross-party or majority support and are expected to become law.

The government is now committed to updating the statute book within a year to outlaw harmful experiments on apes in Spain.

Mr Pozas said: "We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but there is currently no law preventing that from happening."

Keeping an estimated 315 apes in Spanish zoos will not be illegal, but supporters of the Bill say conditions will need to improve drastically in 70% of establishments to comply with the new law.

Philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project in 1993, arguing that "non-human hominids" like chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.

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