Spain studies protecting bullfighting as national pastime

MADRID Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:41am IST

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voted on Tuesday to consider protecting bullfighting as a cultural asset, angering animal rights campaigners and authorities in two regions where the sport is banned.

Members of the ruling People's Party, which has an absolute majority in the parliament, voted to debate a petition signed by signed by 500,000 members of the public.

Under the proposal, bullfighting would be promoted and Spain would push to have it recognised by UNESCO as part of its heritage, joining world cultural symbols such as China's Dragon Boat Festival and the Castells human tower formations from the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

Bullfighting has gone on in Spain for centuries and its fans included the U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway and Spanish artist Picasso, who celebrated it in their works.

A positive vote could potentially help supporters of bullfighting overturn regional bans - in place in the Canary Islands since 1991 and in Catalonia since 2011.

Protecting bullfighting could also make it easier to gain state subsidisies to rear bulls and maintain bullrings.

The sport already receives significant subsidies in many regions and critics say it would not survive in some areas on ticket sales alone. Some regions have been forced to cut back subsidies in order to meet stringent deficit targets.

The wealthy Catalonia region banned the sport after accepting a people's petition at the Barcelona parliament, in what some people saw as an attempt to further distinguish the region culturally from the rest of Spain.

Catalonia's regional government has pledged to hold a referendum in 2014 on secession.

Esquerra Republicana, a leftist separatist party from Catalonia, said approving the petition was provocative.

"Never, ever, will we accept bullfighting in Catalonia," Alfred Bosch, the spokesman for the group in the Madrid parliament, said in a statement. (Reporting by Sarah Morris; Editing by Alison Williams)

Raspy-Voiced Singer

REUTERS SHOWCASE

SpiceJet Bail-Out

SpiceJet Bail-Out

Co-founder of SpiceJet seeks time to finalise rescue  Full Article 

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

Internet outage seen in N. Korea amid U.S. hacking dispute.  Full Article 

Tunisia Vote

Tunisia Vote

Veteran Essebsi wins Tunisia's first free presidential vote.  Full Article 

Singer Dies

Singer Dies

Joe Cocker, raspy-voiced British singer, dies at 70.  Full Article 

Cricket Update

Cricket Update

Shane Watson forced to leave Australia training by bouncer blow.  Full Article 

Jaycee Charged

Jaycee Charged

China charges Jackie Chan's son over drug offence.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage