Mexico took a giant step toward ending animal testing for cosmetics yesterday, with the Senate voting unanimously to ban such testing in the country. The bill would also ban, with some exceptions, the manufacture, import and marketing in Mexico of cosmetics animal-tested anywhere in the world.

The bill will next be considered in the lower house in the Mexican legislature, the Chamber of Deputies. If it becomes law, Mexico would join an elite group of 40 nations worldwide—and become the first nation in North America—to outlaw such testing.

The Senate bill and its passage are partly the result of years of campaigning and negotiation by Humane Society International/Mexico and its local partner, ONG Te Protejo. It also reflects growing awareness about the cruelty of animal testing among Mexican consumers who, polls show, are increasingly turning toward cosmetics that do not involve animal suffering.

Last year, a Parametría poll commissioned by HSI and Te Protejo found that 78% of Mexican citizens said they preferred cruelty-free cosmetics. Since last November, more than 20,000 people in Mexico have signed the HSI-Te Protejo petition at to ban cosmetic animal testing in the country.

During cosmetics testing, substances are forced down the throats of animals, dripped into their eyes, or smeared onto their skin. The animals are left to suffer for days or weeks without pain relief. Most people do not want their beauty products to come at such great cost to innocent animals, and this has led to more and more consumers scanning labels on products to ensure they are cruelty-free.

A great deal of the momentum for change has been driven by HSI’s #BeCrueltyFree campaign. Since our campaign began, we have secured similar victories in India, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, Switzerland and seven states in Brazil, all of which have all passed laws prohibiting or limiting animal testing for cosmetics.

In the United States, three states—California, Nevada and Illinois—now ban the sales of cosmetics that have newly been tested on animals, but there is still no federal ban on such testing. Fortunately, there is now a bill in Congress, the Humane Cosmetics Act, that would end cosmetics animal testing in the country and prohibit the import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere else in the world. The bill would also prohibit companies from labeling their products as cruelty-free if they are selling them in China where animal testing is still required.

We are pushing hard for the HCA to become law this year as part of our global effort to end new animal testing for cosmetics. Today, we commend the Mexican Senate for moving decisively to end cosmetics testing. Lawmakers at the state and federal level in Mexico have made remarkable progress on animal cruelty issues in recent years, including cracking down on dogfighting, enshrining animals as sentient beings in the Mexico City constitution and enhancing state animal protection bills and codes. By outlawing cosmetics animal testing, our neighbor to the south would emerge as a beacon on animal protection issues in the region and send an unequivocal message to the rest of the world—and to the United States—that the future is cruelty-free.