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France

France updates laws on animal feelings

Do they know their legal status has changed?
Do they know their legal status has changed? Wikimedia Commons

France's parliament officially recognised animals as "living, sentient beings" rather than "furniture" on Wednesday, formally updating a status which dated from Napoleonic times.

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After more than a year of often passionate debate, a bill updating the legal status of animals in France was adopted aligning the 200-year civil code with current rural and penal law that already recognised animals "as living and sentient beings."

When the civil code was drawn up by Napoleon in 1804 animals were considered primarily as working farm beasts, and designated as goods or furniture that could be owned.

France's powerful farm lobby, the FNSEA, along with some politicians, had voiced concern that the change in the legislation could undermine the interests of farmers, in particular cattle breeders.

In earlier amendments to the bill, proposals to ban cockfights and bullfighting, were rejected. 

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