French MPs consider banning bullfights

French MPs consider banning bullfights


French MPs are expected to start debating a bullfighting ban on Wednesday, with a vote due later this month that has infuriated blood sport lovers in the south of the country.

The issue has divided the ruling coalition of President Emmanuel Macron and the main opposition party, the far-right National Rally, led by animal lover Marine Le Pen.

Despite broad public support, most observers expect the bid to fail as a majority of MPs fear a backlash in rural areas and bullfighting heartlands, where the practice is a cherished cultural tradition.

“I think the majority of French people share the view that bullfighting is immoral, a spectacle that 21 years ago.

A poll by Ifop polling group earlier this year backed Caron’s claim, with 77 percent of respondents backing a ban, up from 50 percent in 2007.

MPs will begin discussing draft legislation at a hearing of parliament’s Judiciary Commission on Wednesday.

A full vote is scheduled for November 24, which would be the first time the National Assembly has considered banning a tradition idolized by artists from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso.

The bill would amend the existing Animal Welfare Act to remove exceptions for bullfights when they are proven to be “unbroken local traditions”.

These are granted in towns such as Bayonne and Mont-de-Marsan in south-west France and along the Mediterranean coast including Arles, Béziers and Nimes.

The law would also ban cockfighting, which is legal in some areas of northern France.

“MP Caron wants to explain to us from Paris in a very moralizing tone what is good and bad in the south,” said the angry mayor of Mont-de-Marsan, Charles Dayot, to the AFP news agency.

Bullfighting is “our identity, a living culture. Leave us alone with our traditions!” added Dayot, who is vice-president of the Union of French Bullfighting Cities.

– Spanish import? –

Although Macron’s Renaissance Party leader in parliament, Aurore Berge, signed an open letter last year calling for a ban on bullfighting, others in the party strongly oppose the law.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti is known to be a fan of bullfighting, while some oppose the law because it will deepen the rural-urban divide in France.

“It will go away by itself. There are fewer and fewer of them,” Jean-Rene Cazeneuve, a ruling party MP elected from the southern Gers region, told AFP. “There’s no point in banning it and humiliating people who see it as a tradition.”

When she ran for the presidency earlier this year, Le Pen made animal welfare part of her manifesto, vowing to give animals constitutional status and declaring that “wanton abuse of animals is intolerable in our society.”

She has proposed restricting bullfighting audiences to those over 18, while senior MP Julien Odoul is expected to vote in favor of a blanket ban.

Court attempts to ban the practice have repeatedly failed, with courts routinely dismissing lawsuits from animal rights activists, most recently in Nimes in July 2021.

France’s debate of pitting animal rights activists against traditionalists is echoed in other countries with bullfighting histories, including Spain and Portugal, as well as Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.

In June, a judge in Mexico City ordered an indefinite suspension of bullfighting at the capital’s historic bullring, the largest in the world.

Caron told AFP that bullfighting “is not a French tradition. It is a Spanish custom imported to France in the 19th century to please Napoleon III’s Andalusian wife, Countess Eugenie de Montijo”.


More to explorer