Catalonia to become first Spanish region to ban 'sadistic spectacle' of bullfightingBy Tom Worden
Last updated at 2:05 PM on 18th December 2009
Catalonia is set to become the first region in mainland Spain to ban bullfighting following a campaign by animal rights activists.
The area's regional parliament today took a major step towards outlawing the tradition.
It voted by 67 votes to 59 (with five abstentions) to draw up a law calling for fighting bulls to be protected in the same way as other animals.
Protest: An animal rights activist covered in fake blood holds a banner that reads 'Stop Torture' at the front of the Catalonian parliament
Catalan separatists are among those who will support a ban, arguing that bullfighting is a Spanish rather than a Catalan tradition.
Bullfights, known as 'corridas', are currently exempted from animal cruelty laws across Spain.
Earlier this month campaigners, who claim two thirds of Catalans support a ban, delivered a petition with 180,000 signatures to the regional parliament.
They hope success in Catalonia will lead to other regions also banning the 'fiesta nacional'.
And it has reignited a national debate on whether bullfighting is a cruel bloodsport or a proud cultural tradition.
Debate: Some consider bullfighting a cruel bloodsport while others regard it a proud cultural tradition
French actress Brigitte Bardot is appealing to deputies to back the bullfighting ban
She wrote to the Catalan Socialist Party calling bullfighting 'an incredibly sadistic spectacle'.
Manel Casas, chairman of Defending Animal Rights, said: 'Society has moved on and understands that bullfighting has no place in the world today.'
But leading bullfighter Enrique Ponce today described the vote as 'a political attack against something very Spanish.'
And Luis Corrales, chairman of the Association for the Defense of the Bullfight, said: 'Animal rights do not exist, we have obligations towards them, but they do not have rights.
'This is an attack on liberty. It will be the first time in history the (Spanish) democracy has banned culture.'
Catalonia, whose capital Barcelona has a 19,500 seat bullring, is the second most populated region of Spain with 7.5 million inhabitants.
In 2008, 12 bullfights took place in the province, all of them in Barcelona's Plaza de Toros Monumental.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of west Africa, banned bullfighting in 1991.