Catalonia opens debate on abolition Spanish bullfighting

The parliament of Catalonia opens a debate on whether to abolish bullfighting.

Catalonia opens debate on abolition Spanish bullfighting

The parliament of Catalonia opens a debate on Friday on whether to abolish bullfighting, the first Spanish region to consider such a move against a spectacle that has come to symbolise Spain.

The debate, which might not conclude until next April, was triggered under Catalan law by a petition by lobby group Prou! (Catalan for Enough!), which collected more than 180,000 signatures calling for a bill to ban bullfights.

Campaigners call the bullfight -- in which six bulls are usually fought and killed -- a form of animal torture.

"The issue of the bulls will finally enter Parliament on Friday the 18th, and with them will be the voice of millions of people," said Prou! on its website.

The biggest parties in parliament, the governing Socialists and centre-right CiU, have both given their members free votes on the controversial issue, which could lead to the closure of Barcelona's single active bullring.

Bullfighting has been declining for some years in Barcelona as Catalonia has take steps to distance itself from the rest of Spain. Although a top bullfighter such as Jose Tomas can still pack the bullring with 19,000, crowds have been dwindling.

It remains popular in other parts of Spain, with big festivals such as those in Sevilla, Madrid or Pamplona selling out. Leading matadors are treated as national celebrities.

Prou! said that if successful in Catalonia it will try and push to make bull-fighting disappear in other regions where it is not so popular. Some parts of northern Spain have never taken to the spectacle, which traces its roots to ancient Mediterranean customs.

Animal rights groups welcomed the move in Catalonia.

"We are the only country in Europe where this is happening, European animal welfare legislation is much more advanced," said Silvia Barquero, spokeswoman for an anti-bullfighting group.

Bullfights also take place in southern France in line with the Spanish form. In Portugal, the bull is not killed.

Several Latin American countries, including Mexico and Colombia, also have strong bullfighting traditions.

Resisting the ban, nearly 300 leading Spanish personalities from the worlds of culture, education,and the economy published a defence of bullfighting in a "Manifesto for the Mercy of Freedom' on Wednesday.

"It's not just cultural, festive, traditional, social and economic factors that are in play: it's freedom itself," the manifesto said.

Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2009, 09:13
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