A Historic Step for Animal Rights: Colombia Bans Bullfighting by 2027

In a landmark decision, the Colombian Parliament votes overwhelmingly to end bullfighting, marking a significant victory for animal welfare advocates.

by Federico Coppini
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A Historic Step for Animal Rights: Colombia Bans Bullfighting by 2027
© ANSA/EPA

In a decisive and commendable move, the Colombian Parliament has recently passed a law that will see bullfighting banned across the country by 2027. This legislative action represents a monumental victory for animal rights and reflects a growing global trend towards more humane treatment of animals.

The decision was reached with an overwhelming majority, with 93 votes in favor and only two against. The move not only underscores the changing societal values towards animal welfare but also sets a precedent for other nations grappling with the ethical implications of traditional but brutal entertainments involving animals.

Bullfighting, a practice deeply ingrained in some cultures as a form of entertainment or tradition, has been increasingly viewed through a critical lens, with opponents arguing it subjects animals to unnecessary cruelty and suffering for mere human enjoyment.

The practice involves professional toreros (bullfighters) who engage in a series of formal actions and maneuvers culminating in the killing of the bull. Often celebrated as an art form or cultural tradition, it has nonetheless sparked widespread controversy and debate.

The Colombian legislation marks a significant shift from a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that permitted bullfighting in cities and villages with historical bullfighting traditions. It also reflects changing public sentiments, as major cities like Bogotá and Medellín have already prohibited these events since 2020.

However, places like Cali and Manizales have continued to host bullfights as central elements of their traditional festivities. The transition away from bullfighting won’t be abrupt. The law provides a three-year transitional period during which the government is tasked with ensuring alternative employment for those who directly or indirectly depend on bullfighting for their livelihood.

This is a crucial aspect of the law, as it considers the socio-economic impact of the ban and seeks to provide a just transition for all stakeholders involved. During this transition, existing bullfighting arenas are expected to be repurposed for other sporting and cultural activities.

This repurposing strategy not only prevents economic waste but also promotes a more inclusive use of public spaces that align with ethical standards and the community’s evolving values. Colombia's decision adds it to a growing list of South American countries that have banned bullfighting, joining nations like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Guatemala.

Each of these countries has recognized the inherent cruelty of the spectacle and taken legislative steps to end it, reflecting broader global shifts towards greater compassion in how animals are treated. This legislation is not merely about banning an inhumane practice; it represents a broader cultural shift towards recognizing and respecting animal sentience and welfare.

It challenges deeply entrenched traditions and showcases the capacity for societal growth and ethical development. Animal rights organizations worldwide have lauded Colombia's decision, seeing it as a critical step forward in the global fight against animal cruelty.

These groups have long campaigned against bullfighting, highlighting the pain and fear experienced by the animals and the moral implications of such entertainment. The ban on bullfighting in Colombia serves as a beacon of hope for animal rights advocates everywhere.

It underscores the importance of legislative action in safeguarding animal welfare and sets an example for other countries to reevaluate their own practices and legislation regarding animal treatment. As we move forward, it is imperative that other nations take note of Colombia’s progressive stance and consider similar measures to protect animals from unnecessary harm.

The decision by Colombia’s Parliament is a clear message that tradition cannot justify cruelty and that compassion must lead our interactions with all living beings. This landmark legislation not only saves countless animals from suffering but also aligns with a more humane, ethical, and just society.