Spain′s top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia | News | DW | 20.10.2016
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Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia

Spanish judges have canceled a local ban on bullfighting in Catalonia, saying it violated a national law protecting the practice. The ruling could increase tensions between the separatist region and Madrid.

The Catalan bullfighting ban was declared "unconstitutional and void," Spain's Constitutional Court said in a statement on Thursday.

The powerful northeastern region banned the practice in 2010, becoming the second region in Spain to do so after the Canary Islands in 1991. Catalonia's ban went into effect in early 2012.

The ban came about in part due to a growing movement against bullfighting, but it was also seen as a political move in the Catalan government's attempts to break from Spain. Catalonia's ban had few practical effects as it only had one operating bullring in Barcelona.

At the time, the Catalan government said the ban was to protect bulls but officials did not prohibit events featuring bulls running around with flaming wax balls or fireworks attached to their horns.

Tensions with Madrid

Thursday's court ruling followed a challenge by Spain's conservative Popular Party which is headed by acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The court's ruling noted that although regional authorities can generally regulate public spectacles, bullfighting is classified as part of Spain's heritage. A ban, therefore, is a matter for the central government, the court said.

The decision drew immediate reactions from politicians and animal rights activists.

"In the Spanish state, it's unconstitutional to ban the public torture and murder of an animal. Enough said," tweeted Gabriel Rufian, a Catalan separatist lawmaker in national parliament.

Alicia Sanchez-Camacho, president of the Catalan branch of the Popular Party, said she "welcomed" the decision and would "continue to defend" freedom and bullfighting.

Animal rights party PACMA also criticized the decision as politically-motivated, with party member Ana Bayle saying: "Once more, they have used animals in a political war. They don't know anything about animals, nor do they care."

Catalonia's regional government is pushing to hold an independence referendumin 2017, with a view to seceding from Spain. It's not the first such attempt. The Spanish government has said they will not allow the referendum or secession to take place.

In recent times, nearly 20 other Spanish cities and towns slashed funding for bullfights and bull runs or passed measures to condemn the practices.

Other controversial Spanish traditions involving animals, such as throwing a live goat off a tall church steeple onto a crowd below, have also been banned over the years.

rs/msh  (AP, AFP)

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