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Spanish islands approve booze-free and bloodless bullfights

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

A majority of left-wing politicians 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 (£89,000) if animals get hurt or spectators under the age of 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.

Mr 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 north-eastern region of Catalonia.

Laura Camargo, a politician 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 organisation, hailed Monday's move by the islands' parliament as "a very satisfying victory for compassionate policy-making".

"Taunting and killing bulls for entertainment is a brutal anachronism," said Joanna Swabe, the group's public affairs director for Europe.

"This vote shows that a full ban is not strictly necessary to end the practice of bullfighting."

AP

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