Spain Bans ‘Shameful’ Tradition Of ‘Dwarf Bullfighting’

Disability rights groups are celebrating the crackdown on the decades-long tradition


3 Minutes Read

A lone bull with big horns running in a bullfighting ring in Spain Dwarf bullfighting in Spain will now be a thing of the past - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Warning: this article contains images that some might find upsetting

Spain has banned a longstanding tradition of “dwarf bullfighting” in a move that’s been hailed by campaigners. 

The controversial events saw dwarves chase bulls while dressed up in clown, firefighter, and other costumes. They wouldn’t kill the bulls, and the idea was originally intended to be humorous for spectators. 

‘Shameful performances’

“We have overcome the Spain of the past,” said Jesús Martín, the director general of Spain’s Royal Board on Disabilities, which backed the ban. “People with dwarfism were subjected to mockery in public squares in our country, passing down the idea that it is OK to laugh at difference, to so many girls and boys who go with adults to see these shameful performances.”

A lone bull with big horns in a bullfighting ring in Spain
Adobe Stock Bullfighting of all kinds is increasingly controversial

The Spanish parliament approved the law at the end of April, bringing the country in line with EU guidelines on discrimination against disabled people. Some of the dwarf bullfighters have opposed the ban, however. Standing outside parliament, they held a banner reading “Libertad,” which translates to “Freedom.”

“They take it for granted that people are being denigrated or laughed at, and it’s the opposite: the respect they have for us is impressive,” Daniel Calderón, one of the bullfighters, told the EFE news agency.

The cruelty of bullfighting 

Animal rights groups, however, have celebrated the ban. 

“Ridiculing others for the sake of entertainment is wrong and must end,” PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen told Plant Based News (PBN). “While PETA welcomes a ban on ‘comic’ bullfighting, until this archaic spectacle is outlawed altogether, sensitive, feeling beings will continue to be denigrated in the ring, with bulls subjected to a slow, terrifying death as they’re repeatedly stabbed with daggers and swords.”

The “sport” of bullfighting dates back centuries, with some experts predicting the modern Spanish version started in 1726. Despite numerous calls from animal rights organizations over the years, Spain continues to allow bullfighting, despite concerns about animal welfare. 

A matador with an injured bull during a bullfight in Spain
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals Media Bulls will sustain painful injuries during bullfights

In traditional bullfights, the animals are injured and killed in front of spectators. The sport often inflicts significant pain and stress on the animal before they succumb to injuries.

While Spain has yet to crack down on the industry in general, animal rights campaigners have expressed hope that public opinion – which is increasingly against bullfighting – will eventually sway lawmakers. 

“Fortunately, opposition to bullfighting in Spain and elsewhere is mounting,” Allen told PBN. “And it’s only a matter of time before these cruel displays are relegated to the history books, where they belong.

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