Bull fighting banned in Catalonia

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The bull fighting ring in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalan autonomous region. Today, the Catalonian parliament voted to outlaw bull fighting.
Image: Niklas Gustavsson.

The parliament of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain, today voted to outlaw bullfighting – an iconic sport in much of the country. The vote was held after animal rights activists, led by Catalonian animal rights group Prou! (Catalan for "Enough!"), who claim the practice is "barbaric", collected 180,000 signatures to a petition.

In other areas, such as Portugal and southern France, the bulls, which are specially bred for fighting, are not killed in the ring.

The ban, which passed with a 68–55 majority and nine abstentions, will come into force in Catalonia in January 2012, making the region the first place in mainland Spain to outlaw the practice. Supporters of the practice claim that it is an art form which forms an important part of the Spanish culture, and fear that the ban could be the first of many in Spain. They also say that many jobs would be lost as a result of the ban, with estimates that it could cost €300 million in lost revenue.

Both the main parties in the Catalan parliament took the unusual step of allowing their members a free vote in the debate, which saw high emotions on both sides. The debate was officially over the animal welfare concerns; however, many believe that the underlying issue of Catalan nationalism played a significant part in the outcome. Some expressed the opinion that Catalonia, which, while officially part of Spain, has its own language and flag, was attempting to distinguish itself from the rest of Spain by outlawing one of its most famous traditions.