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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Barcelona votes to end bullfights
A bullfighter is gored by a bull
About 100 bulls are killed each year in bullfights in Barcelona
Barcelona has voted to ban bullfighting, after a big campaign by animal rights groups.

Nearly 250,000 people signed a petition calling for abolition in Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital.

The regional government must now approve the ban, the first of its kind in Spain, for it to become law.

Supporters of the sport, regarded by many as a national pastime, have threatened to take to the streets in protest.

In a secret ballot, 21 councillors voted in favour, 15 against, with two abstentions.

One of earliest references dates back to 200 BC in Andalusia
Banned by Pope Pius V in 16th century
Also popular in Portugal, southern France and Latin America
Bulls are specially bred and colour-bind
One of most memorable literary portrayals is in Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (1932)

The motion states: Barcelona is an anti-bullfighting city.

The BBC's Danny Wood in Madrid says the vote reflects a feeling that bullfighting is incompatible with Barcelona's image of a city famous for art and architecture.

The aim also expresses a Catalan desire to forge an identity separate from Madrid, he adds.

The vote has inflamed fans of the sport.

Apart from Madrid and Seville, no other city stages more bullfights.

About 100 bulls are killed each year in bullfights in Barcelona's only working bull ring, La Monumental, watched mainly by curious tourists.

However, a city council spokesman told BBC News Online that there has not been a large bullfighting following in the region since the 1960s.

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