Spanish region moves closer to ban on bullfighting
Catalonia moved closer to banning bullfighting on Wednesday after an evironmental commission in the northeastern Spanish region's parliament approved a motion to prohibit the spectacle.
Catalonia's regional parliament is now expected to vote on the motion -- which calls for a tightening of the region's animal protection law to remove an exception for bullfights from a ban on the killing or mistreating animals in shows -- in the coming weeks.
Animal rights activists, campaigning under the platform "Prou!" or "Enough!" in the Catalan language, collected 180,000 signatures in Catalonia on a petition calling for the motion to be debated and voted on by the assembly.
If the motion is approved in Catalonia, home to Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, it would become the first region in the country outside of the Canary Islands to ban the practice.
The wealthy region, where many seek independence from Spain, has led opposition to bullfighting, in part due to a desire among some Catalans to strike a separate identity from the rest of the country.
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 with polls showing a rising disinterest in bullfighting throughout Spain, especially among the young, although it retains a passionate following and leading matadors are treated as celebrities.
© 2010 AFP