Bill to give apes legal rights greeted with ridicule
27 April 2006
MADRID — The Spanish Parliament is debating a bill which would give great apes rights.
The bill, which is backed by the Spanish arm of the Seattle-based Great Ape Project, would stop apes from being caged, marketing or improperly used for research.
The group presented the objectives of the international programme to deputies in Spain’s lower house.
But the idea has met with the widespread ridicule.
Conservative political sectors and the Catholic Church consider the initiative to be “frivolous and ridiculous”.
The Great Ape Project is founded upon the genetic similarity between great apes – chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas – and humans.
The group is pursuing the aim of securing a U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer certain moral and legal rights on them, including “the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty and protection from torture”.
“Regardless of who it hurts, we human beings are great apes,” said biologist Joaquin Araujo, the president of the Great Ape Project in Spain.
He claims because of their close biological kinship with humans, protecting the basic rights of apes is “an ethical responsibility”.
Araujo lamented the fact that some have sought to make “ridiculous” comparisons between the Great Ape Project and the ape protection bill presented in Parliament by lawmaker Francisco Garrido of the Green Party, which is part of the ruling Socialists’ majority grouping.
The head of the conservative Popular Party, Arturo Esteban, said that it was an “act of moral poverty” that the Socialists almost want to equate apes with people, extending to the former the “moral and legal protection” currently enjoyed only by humans.
The opposition deputy called the bill was an “act of frivolousness” and asked, “why not legalize (sexual) relations between man and animals, while you’re at it?”
Esteban said that his party was against the mistreatment of animals, but he deplored the proposal regarding the apes when “children continue to be (used as) currency and there still exist sexual slavery networks for women”.
The Archbishop of Pamplona, Fernando Sebastian, said that only in a “ridiculous or dislocated” society are these rights requested for apes and denied to embryos.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news