Catalonia prepares to vote on bullfight ban
The Catalan parliament in northeast Spain said Tuesday it would decide this month whether to ban bullfighting in the region, as the country's most famous bull run festival got underway.
The motion to outlaw bullfighting in Catalonia "will be debated and voted" on July 28, the regional parliament said in a statement.
The vote had been planned for mid-July, but the date was pushed back after the right-wing People's Party requested a public consultation.
The Prou (Enough) anti-bullfighting campaign spearheaded calls for the proposed ban, collecting 180,000 signatures in favour of outlawing the practice in Catalonia.
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.
It would also make Catalonia, home to Spain's second largest city Barcelona, the first region other than the Canary Islands to ban the bullfighting.
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.
Thousands of people meanwhile packed the streets of Pamplona in northen Spain for the opening of the nine-day San Fermin running of the bulls.
The bull runs have claimed 15 lives since 1911 and each year dozens of runners are injured.
© 2010 AFP