Animal Protection amended into Austrian Constitution
On 27 May 2004, the Austrian parliament voted unanimously to add the following statement alongside human rights into the Austrian constitution:
The state protects the life and well-being of animals due to the special responsibility humans have for their fellow creatures.
Having the protection of life and well-being of non-human animals in the constitution has been a primary demand by the Austrian animal rights movement for a very long time. Indeed, a public referendum in 1996 called specifically for this change.
After a long wait, the constitution was finally amended in 2013.
A country‘s constitution sums up the basic values of its society. No law or no political act may contravene the constitution. Every year there are a large number of court cases regarding non-human animals. Each and every one of these cases can make use of such a constitutional change to move society further towards respecting animal rights. Although this statement in the constitution will not, by itself, save any individual animal, it will however be the most powerful source for change on all levels of society on the long run. This ranges from the right to protest on behalf of animals, to the severity of fines for animal abuse, applications for animal experiments, government funding of animal welfare, animal rights curriculum in schools and the establishment of new animal laws.