Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Spain's Catalonia backs debate on bullfighting ban

Bullfight, Spain

Catalonia's regional parliament has voted in favour of debating a ban on bullfighting in the Spanish region.

A motion to debate a petition calling for a change in animal protection laws was passed by 67 votes to 59.

Campaigners had collected 180,000 signatures supporting their proposal to ban bullfighting.

It asked Catalan lawmakers in Barcelona to include the bull in existing animal protection legislation, which will be debated and voted on next year.

Only one functioning bull ring remains in the regional capital, Barcelona.

If Catalonia votes to ban bullfighting, it will be the first Spanish region - except for the Canary Islands - to do so.

Anti-bullfight activists from the campaign group Prou! ("Enough!") have vowed to spread their efforts across the country if they manage to get the practice banned by Catalonia.

The petition also recommended compensation for those currently working in the industry, including breeders of the bulls.

Friday's vote was applauded by animal rights groups.

"By voting in this way, MPs have acknowledged and respected the views of over 180,000 Catalonian citizens who have expressed their wish for bullfights to be banned," said Alyx Dow, of the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (WSPA).

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