Catalonia parliament receives petition backing bullfight ban
Animal rights activists delivered a petition carrying 140,000 signatures to the Catalan parliament Monday calling for a bullfighting ban two days before it votes on the issue.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals presented the petition, with signatures collected from 120 nations, after a separate petition by Catalan campaigners brought the issue to the region's parliament.
Campaigners for the British-based group handed out copies of the petition to each member of the Catalan assembly along with a toy replica of a bull with the slogan: "I am not a pincushion".
"This week, the world is watching Catalonia," said the president of WSPA International, Mike Baker.
"Local members of parliament have the chance to make a bold statement about the region's modern attitude by refusing to allow the continuance of this outdated and cruel practice," he added.
The Catalan parliament will debate and vote on a motion to outlaw bullfighting in the region after 180,000 Catalans signed a petition circulated by anti-bullfighting group Prou!, or Enough!.
It too argued that the practice amounts to animal cruelty.
If passed, the motion would change Catalonia's current animal protection law that forbids the killing or mistreatment of animals in public, with the exception of bull runs.
That would also make Catalonia, home to Spain's second largest city Barcelona, the first region other than the Canary Islands to ban the bullfighting. Bullfighting was made illegal in the archipelago in 1991.
The wealthy region, where many seek independence from Spain, has led opposition to bullfighting, in part due to a desire among some Catalans to emphasise its distinct identity.
In 2003 it passed a sweeping animal protection law that restricted towns without bullrings from building them and prohibited all children under 14 from attending bullfights.
During the right-wing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, bullfighting was promoted as a unifying national spectacle.
But its mass appeal has faded, especially among the young, and it has been hit hard by the economic crisis.
© 2010 AFP