Spain's Balearic Islands have approved laws that prohibit harming bulls in the bullring. Conservatives plan to challenge the restrictions in court for violating the constitutional protection of cultural heritage.
Spain's Balearic Islands on Monday passed a law to make bullfighting shorter and bloodless, in a decision that was praised by animal rights groups but could face legal challenges by conservatives.
A group of left-wing parties in the regional parliament approved the "Balearic-style bullfighting" law, which also bans alcoholic beverages and children under 18 in the bullring.
The law bans "sharp implements that can injure and/or kill the bull" and also limits the time that each bull spends in the ring from 30 to 10 minutes. Bullfighters and animals will also be required to take anti-doping tests.
The more than 100 year-old Fornalutx bull run will also be restricted by prohibiting bulls from being roped and prodded through the streets.
Compassion or assault on culture?
Animal rights groups praised the new law. "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," said Joanna Swabe of global animal rights group Humane Society International.
Critics say the new law will effectively ban bullfighting by making it difficult to attract spectators.
An insurance requirements and fines if animals get hurt or anyone under age 18 are caught in the bullring also place undo restrictions, critics say.
The conservative People's Party, the party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, strongly opposed the measure as an assault on Spanish culture and traditions.
"It's a law made treacherously to ban our culture," People's Party deputy Miquel Jerez said.
Jerez said the party would seek to reverse the law, arguing that it is against provisions in Spanish law protecting bullfighting as an "intangible cultural heritage."
Last year, the Supreme Court shot down a 2010 ban on bullfighting in the semi-autonomous Catalonia region.
cw/kl (AFP, dpa, Reuters)