Catalonia Becomes First Anti-Bullfighting Spanish Region

Animal rights advocates are hoping that the beginning of the end of bullfighting has started in Spain after the Catalonia regional Parliament voted to ban the bloody age-old tradition on Wednesday.

In a first for a region in mainland Spain, the Catalan Parliament voted 68-55 with nine abstentions to prohibit the sport starting 2012. Supporters of the ban said bullfighting is like an institutionalized cruelty to animals that should be stopped. Oppositionists, on the other hand, defended bullfighting by saying that the matador-against-bull sport is part of Spanish tradition, and thus should be preserved.

While animal rights activists hailed the parliament decision, critics saw the move as a product of lawmakers’ bid to assert the region’s political independence rather than a genuine concern for the half-a-ton bulls. The decision comes at a time when the region is fervently pushing for the establishment of a Catalan nation. The region, whose capital city is Barcelona, wants greater if not total independence from Spain.