prohibition, authorization, where are we elsewhere in the world?

In 2012, while anti-bullfights wanted to ban it in the territory, based on the law of Grammont that condemned since 1850 the abuses done to animals, the Constitutional Council decided that the reduction granted to bullfighting, in under “immutable and local tradition”, is consistent with the French Constitution. To ban bullfighting, the legislator therefore has to change the law, proposed by the new text of Nupes, brought by the animalist deputy by Aymeric Caron. Reviewed in the law commission on Wednesday, December 16, the text was rejected. It will be discussed in the National Assembly on November 24.

The question of bullfighting and animal suffering is not the only subject of debate in France. In Spain, Colombia or Mexico, similar laws have been adopted and bullfighting may disappear in other countries with a tradition of bullfighting.

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In Spain and Portugal

In Spain, a royal decree, revised in 1962 and then in 1991, governs bullfighting since 1917. The Spanish Constitution stipulates that the State has exclusive competence in the defense of culture, art and monumental heritage. But in practice, the autonomous communities decide the regulations.

In July 2010, Catalonia voted to ban bullfighting in the province. In 2016, the Constitutional Court overturned the ban, but effectively no more bullfights took place. On the other hand, there are other bullfighting shows in Catalonia. In 2017, the Balearic archipelago’s regional parliament passed an animal protection law that heavily regulates bullfights, specifically banning the killing of bulls.

In Portugal, killing has been prohibited since a law in 1928. But that was not enough to eradicate the practice of bullfighting. In 2000, a law introduced the right to kill in municipalities where the cultural practice was still strong and justified. Previously set at 12, the minimum age for going to bullfights was extended by the government to 16 in 2021. The Portuguese authorities did not follow the recommendations of the United Nations Committee, which recommended a ban on bullfighting. access to bullfights for everyone under 18 years of age.

In Latin America

In Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Cuba, bullfighting, a tradition that dates back to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, is banned and has disappeared, mostly since the end of the 19th century. In countries where it is still practiced, the Covid-19 health crisis, by dealing a severe blow to the world of bullfighting, has generally contributed to accentuate its gradual decline.

Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico: towards prohibition or disappearance

In Panamabullfighting has been banned since March 15, 2012.

In Venezuela, the ban on bullfighting began in 1894, but it is still practiced. However, this Latin American country has the fewest bullfights that take place during the year. As of 2016, only two provinces have actually organized them: Táchira and Mérida. Big cities like Caracas, Maracaibo, San Felipe and Maracay decided to abandon this practice. In 2020, only seven bullfighting shows were held in the country. On February 2, 2022, the Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab, announced that a law will soon be implemented in the country to protect the lives of so-called fighting bulls and eliminate bullfighting in the country. According to the animal defense association AnimaNaturalis, in Venezuela, “bullfighting will die in the next two years”.


The monumental Pueblo Nuevo bullring in Venezuela in 2007.

Wikimedia Commons

In 2021, theEcuador take further steps towards abolition. On January 10, Quito decided to ban any “public or private spectacle involving the suffering, abuse, death or any violation of animal welfare”. Bullfighting in all its forms and cockfighting are now banned in the capital by a municipal ordinance, as an extension of the 2011 citizen consultation: more than 50% of the inhabitants want to end these activities. A dispute with the Constitutional Court of Ecuador is underway, however it is necessary to wait for officialization.

A very strong cultural tradition in Peru, bullfighting returns to Lima in September 2021, after a more than 20-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In February 2020, the Constitutional Court of Peru rejected a class action calling for a ban on bullfighting and cockfighting, which are also very popular. In its judgment, the Court justified its decision by reasoning that “there is no Universal Declaration of Animal Rights”.

In Colombia, legislative attempts to end bullfighting have so far been thwarted. In Bogota, Medellin or Cali, there are still big bullfights that go on until the bull dies. But the situation can change quickly. While animal rights activists continue to take the lead, the country’s first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, who takes office on August 7, 2022, is a well-known anti-bullfighting. A bill is under study that aims to immediately ban shows with the death of a bull and, within three years, all shows where there is animal abuse.

Finally, at Mexico, where bullfighting was banned from 1867 to 1887, a judge confirmed on June 10, 2022, the sine die suspension of bullfights in Mexico City, the largest in the world, with a capacity of 50,000 people. Bullfighting circles said they would continue their “legal defense” of “Mexican customs and traditions”. Review of their possible appeal could take several months. As of December 2021, Mexico City’s local Congress has banned bullfighting shows, without a plenary session vote, as have five of Mexico’s 32 states.

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