Ghears the bullfight banned in France? Left MP Aymeric Caron (LFI) is convinced of this. He introduced a bill to Parliament, which has been under discussion since Wednesday. The question of a corrida ban splits the parliament across party lines. The leader of the governing group, Aurore Bergé, calls the bloody fight cruelty to animals and wants to support the ban. But her fellow party member, Attorney General Eric Dupont-Moretti, is an ardent admirer of the Corrida. It is “a high art and not a slaughterhouse”.
The former star lawyer Dupont-Moretti insists on being allowed to plead against the ban in the National Assembly. In a television program he once explained that he considers the anti-bullfighters to be fanatical vegans who are on a “ban strip”. The Tauromachy have artists like Pablo Picasso or Ernest Hemingway and must be protected like an art form. Dupont-Moretti also likes to cite Jean Cocteau and Édith Piaf, both bullfighting enthusiasts.
Many in the ruling faction find the justice minister’s passion strange. In the Elysée Palace, however, they do not want to give the impression that they are ignoring the people of the country, as with the speed limit of 80 km/h on country roads. That is why Elysée Secretary General Alexis Kohler advocates voting against the ban. Ever since the “yellow vest” protests, the government has been plagued by fear of being perceived too much as the urban elite.
Do animals have the same rights as humans?
The initiator of the legislative initiative does not know such shyness. Aymeric Caron, the 50-year-old MP from the left party LFI has made a name for itself with books such as “NoSteak”, “Utopia XXI” and “Nature’s Revenge”. He belongs to the movement that recognizes no species difference between humans and animals. He has become known on talk shows with the demand that one should not kill flies. He sees the ban on bullfighting as part of a new way of life that respects animals. He himself does not eat any animal products and told on TV how he bakes cakes without eggs and dairy products.
Caron has advocated electoral reform and wants to strip people of the right to vote who do not have a minimum standard of knowledge about animal and climate protection and other environmental issues. In the Left Party, the ban on bullfighting is supported by a majority of MPs.
The largest opposition faction, that of the Rassemblement National (RN) around Marine Le Pen, however, is split. Cat lover Le Pen said “personally” she didn’t like bullfighting and thought a ban was appropriate. She does not want to give her parliamentary group a voting recommendation. Because the members of parliament from the south in particular are outraged that the summer folk festivals around bullfights could be threatened.
Bullfighting as a folk festival
Nîmes MEP Yoann Gillet (RN) is outraged at “how a centuries-old tradition is about to be destroyed”. In Nîmes, where the first bullfight was documented in 1402, the summer “Feria” still attracts thousands to the Arena, one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the Roman world. In Nîmes not only corridas take place, where a bull is killed by the torero. During the “Courses”, a “raseteur” dressed in white has to snatch small trophies from the horns of the black Camargue bull with a kind of iron claw. The “Course Camarguaise” is over when the cockade, pom-poms and cords have been torn off.
In the Rhône delta from Montpellier to Marseille there are almost 900 races each season. The spectacle is also very popular in other cities such as Arles, Bayonne, Béziers, Dax, Mont-de-Marsan and Vic-Fezensac. According to an Ifop survey, 72 percent of the residents there want to keep bullfighting.
Tradition or animal cruelty?
In whole France opinion is different. According to a survey commissioned in February by the animal rights group 30 millions d’amis (30 million friends), 77 percent of the French are in favor of a ban on bullfighting. Currently, the French Penal Code criminalizes cruelty to animals, but makes an exception for “uninterrupted local traditions” like bullfighting. The Greens have already tried twice, in 2013 and 2021, to enforce a ban. A constitutional lawsuit also failed. The Constitutional Council has ruled that the corridas do not violate the French Constitution. The penal code also makes exceptions for cockfights in regions where it is a “local tradition”.
In 2017, a Spanish torero was fatally injured in a bullfight in Aire-sur-l’Adour in southwest France. The first death since 1921 had shocked many French. Should a majority in the National Assembly vote for a ban, the right-wing majority in the Senate would still have to agree. Senate President Gérald Larcher, a former veterinarian, opposes banning corridas.