Court upholds ban on exhibition of plastinated bodies

The Real Human Bodies exhibition presents corpses preserved through plastination. Keystone

The controversial exhibition “Real Human Bodies” will not take place in the Beaulieu Palace in Lausanne despite a legal appeal by organisers against a ban imposed by local authorities.

This content was published on October 19, 2018 - 11:51

On Friday, the Vaud cantonal court upheld the ban on the exhibition in Lausanne.  The court stated that the authorities had a right to stop the exhibition given the lack of information on the origin of the cadavers. Earlier this week, the head of the canton of Vaud announced the decision not to issue a permit for the travelling exhibition, which planned to stop in Lausanne from Friday to Sunday.

This decision comes after the Christian Association for the Abolition of Torture and the Death Penalty (ACAT) lodged a complaint regarding the origins of the bodies on display, as well as written certifications of consent provided by the deceased for the use of their bodies in the exhibition.

According to ACAT, there is a high probability that the bodies used in the exhibition are those of Chinese prisoners who died or were executed, and members of Falun Gong, a banned movement in China whose followers are being persecuted.

No clarification provided

The city of Lausanne requested clarification from event organisers but the organisers either refused or were unable to provide concrete proof that people had approved the use of their corpses in the exhibit. Nor did they provide an explanation as to the origins of the bodies.

"Too many things are not clear to be comfortable," said city council member Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand to Keystone-ATS. "The city asked for clarification and did not receive it. We therefore banned this event and urged the Beaulieu Foundation to take all measures not to open it to the public. "

In Switzerland, every person has the fundamental right to dispose of his remains as they wish and to set precise terms and conditions for their future. As doubts concerning the origins of the bodies were not dispelled, the city said that the exhibit is likely to offend the sensitivities of the people of Lausanne.

Not the first time

Similar exhibition of human bodies preserved through plastination have passed through Switzerland. ACAT also denounced the "Bodies Exhibition" held in Bern this past weekend. The "Body Worlds" exhibition held a year ago in Geneva also stirred debate and was not unanimously accepted by the public.

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