France has cut bullfighting from its cultural heritage list after pressure from animal rights activists.
Although bullfighting is better associated with neighbouring Spain, certain towns in southern France also have a tradition of the sport, known as “La Corrida” in French.
France added La Corrida to its list of “intangible heritage” back in 2011 but removed any mention of it from their website after outrage from animal rights activists. Its inclusion on the list could have seen it listed for protection by UNESCO.
The Local reports that animal activists wanted it struck off the list entirely, but a court has now ruled that its removal from the website means it has effectively been dropped by the government. Roger Lahaha of anti-bullfighting group CRAC Europe said the decision was “an immense victory”.
“It is one more step towards the abolition of a barbarism that belongs to another age,” he said.
However, any plans to ban the sport outright will meet with strong opposition from the French government with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was born in Spain, being a keen fan.
He previously defended the tradition, saying: “It’s something I love, it’s part of my family’s culture.”
“It’s a culture that we have to preserve. We need these roots, we should not tear them out,” he added.
Towns where bullfights are especially popular include Nîmes and Arles, although fights take place across the south of the country.
Another form of bullfighting where the bull does not die is also popular. Course camarguaise involves trying to retrieve a rosette from the horns of a bull before they are herded back into pens.
In 2012, CRAC failed in an attempt to get France’s constitutional court to outlaw the sport. France’s constitution outlaws cruelty to animals, but makes exceptions for bullfighting. The court ruled that the exceptions still apply.