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Vote to be held on animal rights

Under law, animals are classified as inanimate objects.

A nationwide vote is to be held in Switzerland on a proposal to change the status of animals in law. Animal rights activists and veterinary organisations want animals to be recognised as living things, and no longer as objects.

Organisers of the initiative on Thursday handed in to the authorities 125,000 signatures in support of the proposal. If at least 100,000 are validated, the federal authorities must organise a vote on the issue.

The organisers made clear that it had taken them only five months to collect the signatures, even though they had until September 2001 to do so.

They decided to launch a popular initiative because, in the past seven years, parliament has twice refused to even debate the proposal, most recently last December. They accused the assembly of failing to recognise the feelings of the public on this issue.

“Even children are fully aware of the difference between an inanimate toy and an animal,” said Marianne Staub, president of the Swiss society for the protection of animals.

The initiative is one of two on the same issue launched by animal rights activists and veterinarians earlier this year. Organisers said the second initiative had so far collected between 80,000 and 90,000 signatures, and that they expected to be able to hand it in to the authorities in Berne by the end of October.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR