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Balearic Islands ban blood and death in the bullring

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Balearic Islands ban blood and death in the bullring
Matador Sebastian Castella performs a pass on a bull during San Fermin Festival in Pamplona. Photo: AFP
16:14 CEST+02:00
The Balearic regional parliament has voted in a raft of new measures that overhaul bullfights and ensure that no animals are hurt in the spectacle.

The new legislation, passed on Monday, effectively brings an end to the traditional bullfight on the islands by imposing strict limitations on what can take place in the ring.

Rather than an outright ban such as was brought in by the regional government of Catalonia, where bullfighting is now outlawed, the law backed by a left-wing coalition prohibits the killing of an animal in the ring.

Instead bulls will be limited to spending just ten minutes in the ring and all sharp implements, such as the pica and bandarilla, are banned.

Matadors will only be allowed to use the capote and muleta, two types of bullfighting capes, to interact with the fighting bulls, which will then be returned to their ranch uninjured at the end of the evening.

Photo: AFP

The law will require that participating bulls, which must be at east four-years-old, are examined by a vet to ensure their physical and psychological well-being and that both they and the matadors undergo drugs tests.

The legislation was supported by a left-wing collection that includes the Socialists (PSOE), regional group More for Mallorca and the anti-austerity party Podemos.

Spain's government has opposed the new legistation arguing that it goes against the constitution and powers of the state.

Bullfighting was declared part of Spain's cultural heritage in national laws introduced in 2013 and 2015 by the conservative Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy.

Catalonia introduced a ban on bullfighting in 2010 for animal cruelty reasons but the law was overturned by Spain's Constitutional Court last year.

Support for bullfighting has waned in recent years with demonstrations against the tradition regularly attracting thousands of participants.

Photo: AFP

recent poll showed that fewer that in one in four people in Spain have any interest in it. And that same survey also found some 60 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds are in favour of a ban on the activity.

Humane Society International/Europe applauds the Balearic Islands Parliament's decision.

Joanna Swabe of animal rights group Humane Society International, was in Mallorca for the vote and applauded the result.

"Taunting and killing bulls for entertainment is a brutal anachronism and so this is a very satisfying victory for compassionate policy making," she said. 

"This vote shows that a full ban is not strictly necessary to end the practice of bullfighting, and that compassion can win the day where there is strong public and political will to end animal cruelty.

"Around 30 towns across the Balearic Islands had already voiced their opposition to bullfighting and so this measure to halt both bullfights and bull fiestas enjoys the broad support of both locals and the international community alike."

But opponents of the law, such as Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP), say the ruling is still illegal and could be challenged in the courts.   

Miquel Jerez, PP spokesman in the regional parliament, said it was just another way to ban bullfighting by "distorting its essential characteristics in order to render the show unrecognisable."

The only other Spanish region to have successfully banned bullfighting is the Canary Islands, and Castile and Leon in Spain's northwest abolished the killing of bulls at town festivals last year.

Several cities have also put a stop to corridas or annual festivals with bull running over the years.

But other traditions continue to take place, such as placing flammable balls on the horns of bulls, setting them on fire and letting the animals loose in the street.

Photo: AFP

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