Spanish islands approve booze-free and bloodless bullfights

In this photo taken on Monday, June 5, 2017, Spanish bullfighter Noe Gomez del Pilar kills a Dolores Aguirre ranch fighting bull during a bullfight at the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid. Lawmakers in Spain's Balearic Islands have banned spectators under age eighteen, alcohol and the killing or harming of animals at regional bullfights. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
In this photo taken on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, a woman holds up a picture of a bull during a protest against bullfighting in Madrid. Lawmakers in Spain's Balearic Islands have banned spectators under age eighteen, alcohol and the killing or harming of animals at regional bullfights. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

MADRID — Bullfights in Spain's Balearic Islands will be shorter, bloodless and only for adults under new regulations passed Monday that also ban alcoholic beverages in the bullring.

A majority of left-wing lawmakers in the islands' regional parliament approved the so-called "Balearic-style bullfighting" bill, which also requires anti-doping tests for both matadors and bulls.

The time that each bull spends in the ring should be limited to 10 minutes and each bullfight last for 30 minutes maximum, says the new law, effectively reducing from six to three the number of bulls that are traditionally pitted against matadors at each event.

Conservative deputies who opposed the law said bullfight promoters would find it virtually impossible to hold any under the new restrictions.

Even if promoters can draw bullfighting fans to blood-free "corridas," critics said making the events profitable will be a challenge since the law also carries insurance requirements and fines up to 100,000 euros ($116,000 dollars) if animals get hurt or spectators under age 18 are found in the venue.

"It's a law made treacherously to ban our culture," Popular Party deputy Miquel Jerez said, according to Spanish private news agency Europa Press.

Opponents say the bill is at odds with the protection the Spanish Constitution grants to bullfighting as part of the national cultural heritage.

Jerez said the central government would be seeking to overturn the regional legislation. Spain's Constitutional Court ruled last year against a 2010 ban on bullfighting in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Laura Camargo, a lawmaker with the Podemos party that proposed the bill, said that the new "corridas" could still be appealing the way they are in Portugal and parts of Southern France, where animals are not killed or subject to physical injuries.

Humane Society International, an animal rights organization, hailed Monday's move by the islands' parliament as "a very satisfying victory for compassionate policymaking."

"Taunting and killing bulls for entertainment is a brutal anachronism," said Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International's public affairs director for Europe. "This vote shows that a full ban is not strictly necessary to end the practice of bullfighting."

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