French lawmakers move to ban bullfighting

PARIS Wed Jun 9, 2010 9:19pm BST

Spanish bullfighter Enrique Ponce toys with a bull during Nimes feria, May 17, 1997. REUTERS/Stringer

Spanish bullfighter Enrique Ponce toys with a bull during Nimes feria, May 17, 1997.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Two French parliamentarians said Wednesday they had presented a bill to ban cock and bullfighting, which are widely criticized as barbaric.

Lawmaker Muriel Marland-Militello of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's majority UMP party and Genevieve Gaillard of the opposition Socialist Party told a news conference that banning bullfighting was a question of France's honor.

"Those who defend bullfighting are terribly active but also terribly in the minority," said Marland-Militello.

About a hundred bullfights take place in over 70 cities mainly in southern France every year, killing around a thousand bulls -- tens times less than in neighboring Spain. Cockfighting is more common in the north of France.

Regular demonstrations and debates take place in France over bullfighting. Last June, naked protestors covered in fake blood held a protest at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Around half of the participants surveyed by Ifop in France in 2007 supported a ban on bullfighting in the country.

Defenders of the practice argue that it is a tradition and brings economic benefits.

"We cannot invoke beauty in order to permit barbarity," said Marland-Militello, adding that bullfighting was the only exception to laws against animal cruelty in France.

A spokeswoman for the bullring in Arles, a major venue for bullfighting in southern France, declined to comment on Wednesday, and a spokesman for the Nimes bullring was not immediately available.

Marland-Militello had proposed a bill in 2004 to ban bullfighting, which did not get anywhere.

The current bill has received support from deputies across the board, including Jean-Marc Roubaud, a UMP representative for the Gard region, where bullfighting has a long tradition.

"Bullfighting is an incongruity of our times," the bill reads. "In an already extremely violent world, adding violence to violence is disgraceful."

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Sophie Taylor, editing by Paul Casciato)

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