The French high court upheld a law Friday that banned the construction of new cockfighting pits and rings throughout the nation and in overseas departments such as Reunion Island, French Guyana and the French Antilles, the Associated Press reported. The law is aimed at slowly eradicating the practice, though some French people have claimed it is a traditional part of their regional cultures. The initial legislation was passed in 1964 and then confirmed by the Constitutional Council Friday.
Cockfighting is the practice of setting two roosters against each other, often with the fowls pumped full of steroids and razors or knives tied to their feet before being prodding to fight. The fights frequently end in the death of one of the animals and gruesome injuries to both. Spectators typically bet on the outcomes.
Most neighboring nations in Europe have banned the practice on the grounds of animal cruelty. Some countries, such as Spain for instance, have allowed it to continue on similar grounds involving regional tradition.
The following post shows a French painting from the 19th century that romanticized cockfighting:
— Reto (@RetoSava) March 29, 2014
The recent ruling in France came after two men from Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, were prosecuted under existing laws. Their defense argued that the law, which still allows for construction of new bullfighting rings, was hypocritical in regards to animal cruelty and therefore unconstitutional.
"[It is an] attack on the principle of equality before the law," said Fabienne Lefevre, the lawyer for the two men, as reported by the Local. Laws in France have often made an exception for bullfighting and cockfighting due to their long tradition in certain regions of the country, and the construction of bullfighting rings is still allowed.
The law has no bearing on those rings that already exist. Cockfighting has gone on in France since the Roman ages, and became increasingly popular throughout the Middle Ages.